Studying for your MBA online requires effort and determination. Everyone knows that face time with the computer is a given. What may be less obvious is that taking a short break is just as important.
Simply getting up and moving around may boost your energy level and enhance your ability to focus. Time is valuable as you may be earning your MBA degree online while working full time. To help maximize the hours in the day, here are four quick ways to perk up your metabolism and your brain while not taking time away from your studies to go to the gym.
1 – Walk It Off
A brisk walk may be the single best activity for body and mind. Even 10 or 15 minutes can have a marked impact on your outlook, especially if you can get outside.
Be sure to move vigorously enough to increase your heart rate. Also, monitor your posture – no slouching or shuffling – and be aware of your breathing. Poor form can trigger injury or discomfort. Walking tall – and straight – helps you breathe easier and also avoid back pain.
2 – Stretches And Yoga
Sitting for long periods of time can cause your muscles to stiffen up and your brain to get foggy. Stretches can help you work out the kinks, while yoga poses improve extension, flexibility, and circulation. You don’t have to be a regular yoga practitioner to take advantage of the benefits.
A – Kneeling hip-flexor stretch: Kneel on your right knee with your toes down. Place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you. Your knee should be bent and aligned with your ankle. Place your hands on your left thigh.
Press your hips forward until you feel tension in the front of your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
B – Chest-opening hug: Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Extend your arms out to the side with palms facing up. Inhale deeply through your nose and look up, expanding your chest and opening your arms as wide as possible.
Exhale through your mouth while wrapping your arms around you. Your fingertips should be hugging your upper back, your spine should be rounded, and your chin should be dropped in toward your chest.
Repeat 10 times, alternating which arm wraps on top with each rep.
C – Upper-back stretch: You’ll need a foam roller about 6 inches in diameter for this one. Lie down with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. The foam roller should be positioned under your upper back. Use your hands to support your head.
Roll from the upper part of your back to your mid-back, being careful not to roll onto your neck or lower back. Roll back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds.
D – Cat-cow pose: Start with on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Fingertips should point forward, knees should be directly under your hips, and shins and knees should be hip-width apart.
Move into cow pose: Inhale and drop your abdomen toward the mat. Lift your chin and chest and gaze up toward the ceiling. Be sure to feel the stretch through your shoulder blades.
Move into cat pose: As you exhale, draw your stomach toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling, like a cat stretching its back. Allow the top of your head to point toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
Inhale as you come back to cow and exhale as you return to cat. Repeat five to 20 times, then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.
E – Downward-facing dog: “Down Dog” stretches your entire body.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your head in a straight line with your spine. Take a deep breath.
Bend from the waist until your palms touch the floor (bend your knees if you need to). Place your right foot, then your left, about 4 feet behind your hands.
You should have your heels on the floor and your posterior in the air in an inverted “V” shape (bend your knees if you are uncomfortable straightening your legs all the way). Straighten your spine. Hold for five to 100 breaths.
To release, exhale and gently come back to your hands and knees.
3 – Dance To Music
Freeform dancing is not only fun; it’s a good aerobic workout.
Dancing also literally makes you smarter. As Richard Powers, a dance expert and professor at Stanford University, explained to Elite Daily, “the essence of intelligence is making decisions. Dance requires split-second, rapid-fire decision making and makes use of several brain functions at once kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity.”
When you’re ready to really dance, you’ll probably find yourself moving at about 120 beats per minute (bpm). Psychologists say that most people have an innate preference for that tempo, according to Scientific American. Luckily, any number of 120-bpm songs can get you cranking, from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to 7 Years by Lukas Graham or Too Good by Drake.
4 – Moves For When You Can Barely Move
When you need a break from studying, do something simple: just get up. Walk around the room for a couple of minutes. Even that small amount of activity can help you feel better.
While you’re up, allow yourself a treat. Chocolate contains a (small) hit of caffeine, but the real boost comes from flavonoids in the cocoa that boost cognitive skills and improve your mood. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, try complex carbs, which provide glucose the brain needs to function efficiently.
A single cup of coffee also can provide the fuel and alertness you need to get back to the grind and dominate your online MBA degree studies.
About UAB’s Online MBA Degree Program
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online MBA program that combines traditional university education with the convenience and flexibility afforded by advanced technology. The program offers four concentrations that reflect growing sectors of the economy – Finance, Health Services, Management Information Systems, and Marketing – as well as a General Track. For more information, visit UAB’s online MBA website.