11 Exercise Stretches To Break Up Study Monotony

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By Sophie

Howdy CFA candidates! How are studies coming along? I’m sure you’re doing your best, but I’m worried about your wellbeing, especially if you start to use up all your superpowers in one go and burn out right before the exams. That was what happened to me for Level III which almost went catastrophic.

Now is the time to amp up a consistent routine of sleeping enough, waking up early (practice for the exam day!), nurturing your brain with great food and taking good care of yourself. That said, I find the constant routine of sitting down for roughly 12 hours stretch on weekends (I don’t study weekdays) extremely difficult at times. Heck, I already do that on weekdays! Although it’s stretching it to call it an exercise (stretchercise?), here’s my 5 minute routine that I do every hour during my study break. I find that it improves my focus and relieves all the aching body parts caused by marrying my bum to a chair for these gruelling exams.

So come on people, take a 5 minute break and do this with me now! Let’s get moving a little 🙂

The Shoulder Shrug
You’ve done this many times in your life without knowing. Let’s do it more purposefully this time to reap the benefits:

  1. Raise your shoulders towards your ears.
  2. Hold it for 5 seconds.
  3. Relax downward to a normal position.
  4. Repeat 5x.

The Neck Tilt
This helps release the tension around the shoulder, especially if your sitting position isn’t ideal and you’ve been hunching over the books and computer:

  1. Stand up.
  2. Keep shoulders relaxed and arms hanging loosely.
  3. Tilt head sideways, first to one side, then the other.
  4. Hold each side for 5 seconds. Repeat 2x.

The Neck Stretch
The sister move to the tilt for the full 360 degrees workout:

  1. Sit or stand with arms hanging loosely on the side.
  2. Gently tilt head forward.
  3. Keep shoulders relaxed and downward.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3x.

The Wrist/Forearm Stretch
This is great for getting reducing the stiffness of your wrist and hands after prolonged session on the computer keyboard:

  1. Place hands palm to palm.
  2. Move hands downward, keeping palms together and elbows even.
  3. Hold for 5-8 seconds.
  4. To do the inverse, keep palms together, rotate them downwards, again keeping elbows even.
  5. Hold for 5-8 seconds.

The Hand/Finger Stretch
It’s so easy all you have to do is follow the picture on the left, repeating 5 sets with each move lasting for 3 seconds. Go on, open and stretch those fingers widely, and then clench your fist.

The I-don’t-Wanna-Work-Anymore Stretch
Or the upper back stretch we all are so familiar with. 

  1. First, interlace your fingers behind your head with elbows out on the side.
  2. Make sure you pull your shoulder blades (in) together.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat 5x.

The Morning Upper Body Stretch
To get the maximum benefit out of this stretch, make sure you:

  1. Interlace your fingers, turn palms outward and straighten arms above head.
  2. Elongate arms to stretch through the upper sides of your rib cage. Inhale deeply as you do this.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds. Exhale.
  4. Repeat 5x.

The Tricep and Side Stretch
A great 2-in-1 stretch for the arms and obliques:

  1. Hold the right elbow with left hand as per the picture on the right. Your shoulder and upper back arm should feel that stretch now, but don’t overdo it though!
  2. Gently tilt your body to the left slightly to stretch the side of the body too.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Repeat for the other side. Do 3 sets of each.

The Hamstring Stretch
This is especially for the moments where your butt aches after sitting down for too long! Hamstring flexibility is key for the health of your back, hips, and knees.

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair with your right leg bent. Put your left leg out in front of you with the knee very slightly bent.
  2. Keeping your back straight and head up, lean forward slowly until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh. Hold for 20 seconds.
  3. Do this for the other leg. Repeat 3 sets.

The Side Twists
Ah, this is my favourite, just cause it makes you feel so good! Time to showcase your flexibility:

  1. Bend left leg over the right and look over your left shoulder (as far as you can). 
  2. Place right arm on left thigh to apply pressure for your twist. Hold for 10 seconds. 
  3. Switch sides and repeat 3 sets.

The Full Back Stretch
This is a comforting pose that can be done at your desk. 

  1. Lean forward as far as you can, using your hands to touch your toes or hug your knees.
  2. Keep head down and neck relaxed.
  3. Hold this position for 20 seconds. 
  4. Use your hands to push yourself back up. Repeat 3x.
Refreshed? I certainly hope so, it only took 5 minutes after all. A healthier form of study break than just having another cup of coffee (which can be counterproductive in the long run). It’s all about some variety in your hardcore study routine. Any other tips to share for your study break? Let us know in the comments below!
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