A little while back, I wrote about how “Spaced Learning” can help to increase the retention of information learned. Spaced learning is essentially a method of learning material which involves three intensive sessions of learning of about 15-20 minutes, separated with breaks of 10 minutes. It was found to be a more effective way of learning compared to traditional methods of learning.
Then recently, I revisited the Tabata workouts as a means for staying fit and healthy for busy Mums. Like Spaced Learning, Tabata involves periods of intensive exercise sessions separated by periods of rest. Similarly, Tabata exercises were found to be more effective for improving fitness and increasing weight loss compared to traditional methods of exercise. Interestingly, the Tabata ratio of exercise to rest time is also 2:1 with 20 seconds of intensive exercise being separated with 10 second periods of rest.
Sound like a pattern to you? I thought so…
As important as it is to “work hard”, the breaks we take in between are equally important. It reminded me of something I read when Aristotle was younger. It was about the importance of giving your children “downtime” – periods of time where they are resting, sleeping, not required to do anything, or free to play at will – so they can consolidate their experiences.
What is most interesting about the two examples above – spaced learning and tabata training – is that the “downtime” or “rest time” is actually pretty short. But in spite of how short it is, it plays a vital role in facilitating the adaptation of our minds and bodies to the experiences. Without this brief break, our “take away” from the experience is much more limited. And this reminds me of another experience I had a very long time ago…
I hate amusement park rides because they are either designed to make you physically ill or to to scare the living daylights out of you – both of which, I don’t particularly relish. As such, I usually decline offers for any amusement park ride so it fails me to understand whatever possessed me to agree to ride the “Pirate Ship” all those years ago when I was a Uni student. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Pirate Ship is a ride that swings like a pendulum. The most frightening part of this ride is when the ship has reached the highest point of its arc and is about to descend. Needless to say, it scared me witless and I was a gibbering mess shaking so violently in my seat that I might have been suffering a seizure. Halfway through the ride, they stop the ship to give any of the passengers the opportunity to disembark in case the ride is more than they can handle. I probably should have gotten off but I left my brain at the highest point of the arc and couldn’t think straight so I stayed. In hindsight, it was a good thing I did because I noticed that when the ship started up again, it wasn’t quite as scary as it was when it first started. That brief “rest” that we took in the middle of the ride gave my body a chance to adapt.
I don’t really know why these breaks work or what our minds and bodies are doing when we take them, but I do know that they’re important and I suppose that’s all that really matters.