As a stress management tool, very little can beat exercise. Regular exercise helps keep the immune system strong, keeps the body healthy overall, and also produces endorphins that keep your moods steady and positive.
Because it is so effective at battling stress, exercise can also help you in your fight against test anxiety. A workout on test day and even some stretching in your chair during the test are both good tools to reduce your test anxiety levels and help you get through test day.
Exercise as a Daily Habit
The best way to incorporate exercise into your life is to do a little every day. Just as studying is more effective when it is spread out over a long period of time, exercising is better for you when it is a daily habit. When you sit down to put together your study calendar, put together an exercise calendar as well. Getting your body moving and active will help build your confidence, improve your thinking and ability to concentrate, and keep you more alert both for study sessions and for your test.
Exercise Before Your Test
If you have been working out regularly, do not change your exercise routine in the days preceding test day. Suddenly eliminating exercise can increase your test anxiety because your body will be lacking the positive effects exercise usually supplies. If you normally work out for a half hour or so every day, continue doing so as the test approaches. Ideally, you should work out on the day of the test as well.
If the timeframe of the test competes with the time you would normally exercise, try a shorter workout or a quick walk around the block before going in to take the test. This will help you eliminate lingering stress and will also help you physically relax. Just stretching your legs and increasing your body’s oxygen intake in this way can often reduce your test anxiety to a manageable level.
If you start to feel upset or anxious during the test stretch your arms and legs while in your seat or, if possible, get up and move around. The slight exertion will help settle your mind and make it easier for you to control your test anxiety when you turn your attention back to the test.
Taking care of your body also helps take care of your brain. If you exercise regularly, your body can pump blood and deliver needed oxygen to brain cells and elsewhere so that you will be in tip-top condition for your test. Exercise also helps you relax and remain more alert, providing a better overall mindset for passing your important test.