The Benefits of Stretching during your Study Break

 

As the quarter is wrapping up, students find themselves having a bazillion things to do. From finals to papers, deadlines are soon approaching! So, you’re studying and you’re losing focus. Students might not realize it but during those precise moments taking a five minute fit break and stretching out your muscles is a great way to recharge and refocus.

Stretching isn’t only for the playing field or the gym it is also for the workplace and any other place. Studies have shown that stretching affects the neurological system in a positive way by regulating heart rate and blood pressures which often tend to rise when one is under stress. Stress also causes muscle tightness, which can be relieved by stretching. When you stretch your muscles become relaxed therefore relaxing you and reliving your body of its stress. Taking a break while you study to move around and stretch is the best way to get the most out of your studying. Researchers found that any physical movement optimizes your brain functions, increases your IQ, and increases your focus. Therefore, next time you’re studying and you find yourself losing focus get up and give yourself five minutes to move around, stretch and de-stress. Before you try to go straight into stretching you want to make sure you warm up your muscles by performing some dynamic movements.

Below are some dynamic movements and stretches that you can easily perform while sitting down or standing up next to your favorite studying place!

Neck Tilt:

  1. Tilt your head sideways to one side, reaching towards your shoulder, then to the other side.
  2. Maintain your hands at your sides, hanging loosely.
  3. Hold each side for 6-8 seconds.
  4. Repeat as desired.

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Photo via Monica Aguilar

Finger Stretch: Your fingers need a break too! All that typing and writing causes them to get stressed as well, so stretch them out!

  1. Make a fist.
  2. Open your fist and stretch your fingers by opening them widely.
  3. Repeat 5 times for both hands.

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Photo via Monica Aguilar

Arm Circles

  1. Extend out your arms on either side of your body.
  2. Slowly start moving your arms in circles forward 10x
  3. Switch directions by moving your arms back in circles 10x
  4. While performing this movement make sure your back is straight and your core is tight.

Trunk-Twist (standing):

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Twist your trunk to the right and pivot your left foot at the same time.
  3. Repeat by twisting to the left and this time pivoting your right leg.
  4. As you are twisting, simultaneously swing your arms with the momentum of your twist.

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Photo via Monica Aguilar

High Knees

  1. Stand hip width distance apart with your arms hanging loosely by your side.
  2. Begin with a slight jog in place
  3. As you are getting rhythm begin jumping from one foot to the other by bringing your knees up high above your hips
  4. Make sure you are touching the ground with the balls of your feet and your arms are moving with the motion of your feet.

 

Back Stretch: You can perform this stretch while sitting or standing up.

  1. Begin by leaning your body forward as far as you can and trying to touch your toes.
  2. Make sure to keep your head down and your neck relaxed as you are are leaning forward.
  3. Hold for 6-8 seconds.

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Photo via Monica Aguilar

Hamstring Stretch: This stretch helps untighten your legs and glutes after being seated for a long period of time.

  1. Point right heel to the ground in front of you.
  2. Meanwhile, keep your left leg slightly bent.
  3. Gently lean forward to your right and try to reach your toes. Hold for 6-8 secs.
  4. Alternate legs and repeat.

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Photo via Monica Aguilar

Now remember next time you find yourself studying make sure you take a fit break in between to enhance your focus and learning. Simply perform some of the movements/stretches above, but always make sure that you do not continue performing the stretches if at any point you experience any pain or discomfort. Studying in groups? No problem! Get your friends involved and share the great benefits of stretching during your study break!

Monica Aguilar is a third-year undergraduate Chicano/a Studies major and Spanish minor at UCLA. She is the current project director for [FITTED] a student-run program established in the Community Programs Office which is designed to assist students and maintenance personnel in incorporating lifelong health into all aspects of their lives.

 

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