Jogging your way to the top of the class

One of the little-known secrets to effective studying is making time to exercise and eat right.

Once high school – and school sport – is a thing of the past, it's easy to find yourself not doing any exercise. After all, if you're trying to balance university or TAFE courses with work and a hectic social life, how are you meant to find time to go for a run or cook a nutritious meal? We'll let Richard Branson answer that question.

Exercising creates time

Virgin's Richard Branson, a man who has founded 400 companies, as well being involved in lots of charity work and breaking various sailing and air-ballooning records, was once asked how others could get as much done as he did. What answer did the world's most famous entrepreneur give? Two words: "Work out".

Counterintuitive as it seems, many of the world's busiest and most successful people are exercise nuts, which is why you see the likes of Barack Obama regularly taking a break from leading the free world to hit the basketball court. Rather than chewing up time, people who exercise find it seems to create more of it. By blocking out an hour to work out several times a week, they find they feel better, both physically and mentally, sleep better, have better concentration and therefore get a lot more done.

As a student juggling completing assignments, doing work experience and studying for exams with a host of other commitments, exercise can be the magic bullet that helps you to stay on top of everything.

Eating well creates good health

If you don't think what you put in your mouth has any impact on how you learn, try concentrating during class after gorging on pizza and ice cream as opposed to a sensibly sized serve of grilled fish and steamed veggies. The long-term consequences of eating poorly – obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. – are well known, but even in the short term junk food can leave you feeling terrible once the sugar high dissipates.

No one's saying you can't indulge occasionally, but a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is what you need to keep your mind sharp and your sick days to a minimum.