Renowned doctor offers study (and life) advice at Elon Law

In a visit sponsored by the Office of Academic Success, Dr. William Kraus of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute offered suggestions to nearly 100 Elon Law students for finding success in class, exceling on the bar exam, and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Aim for 10,000 steps every day, fast for at least 10 hours each day, maintain a daily routine… and put down the phones long before bed. Blue light disrupts the production of melatonin, and you need that for a good night’s rest.

Dr. William Kraus, a leading Duke University medical researcher, visited Elon Law on Jan. 11, 2019, to share research and lifestyle advice with students and recent graduates now studying full-time for the bar exam.

"It's at this point in your life that you develop habits you will carry with you for the next five years, 10 years, 20 years," Kraus said. "The reality is you get a job and you're expected to work 18 hours a day. Where is the time to exercise? Where is the time to sleep? To reflect?"

The lunchtime talk in Room 207 examined current research into the way the human body reacts to diet and exercise. From a look at Circadian rhythm to reflections on standing desks – in general, Kraus said, they likely improve mental performance even if researchers have yet to pinpoint a boon to health – the discussion centered on the notion that any moderate activity produces physical benefits.

"You don't need to get to a gym," he said. "You just need to do brisk walking outside, or anywhere you can get it."

Get a good night's sleep two nights before the exam, Kraus said. Bar takers will likely be anxious the night before the exam and rest will be tougher to find. And make it a practice to meditate 30 minutes each day, even if it's clearing your mind during exercise, which means no music or podcasts while on a treadmill or outside for a run.

"Being physically inactive is a disease state. … Exercise alone will not cause you to lose a significant amount of weight," said Kraus, who has run 11 times in the Boston Marathon. "You need the diet to lose the weight. You need to the exercise to maintain the weight."

Kraus is a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology Medicine and the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute. His research interests include the use of molecular markers to personalize approaches to disease prevention. Kraus’ research group focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms whereby exercise training results in health benefits.

His visit to Elon Law was sponsored by the Office of Academic Success. Open to all students, it was aimed specifically at those now studying for the February bar exam after graduating from Elon Law's 2.5-year program in December.

"Dr. Kraus encouraged the overflow audience to take a long term view of their health," said Associate Dean Wendy Scott, who oversees the Office of Academic Success. "He advised students to study in increments of two and a half hours to maximize retention of information and showed how following our individual internal clock over the course of a day leads to good health."

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