Cycle Your Way to Language Proficiency

How much time a week do you spend on a treadmill, bike or doing other exercises? Did you ever wish that you had something more interesting to do during those times rather than watch HGTV or listen to the latest Rhianna song?

New studies show the benefits of a perfect combo: exercise and language learning. Researchers found that you will not only remember learned vocabulary better when exercising during the learning process, but you will also have a better grasp of the words’ usage within sentence structures. In addition, after leaving the foreign language alone for a month, exercisers test better on vocabulary and sentence quizzes than sedentary learners.

What’s Behind It: Brain Plasticity

The reason behind the successful combination of exercise and learning is the increased brain plasticity that follows exercise, which results in improved flexibility and ability to absorb new information. Our brain’s natural plasticity is at its highest during childhood, that is why we learn languages effortlessly as children. As adults, we need to put more work into learning, and physical movement can help.

A study done at the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. This routine allows improving your memory hardware – your grey matter.

Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results, even though they are beneficial for other purposes such as preventing osteoporosis, as well as age-related muscle and coordination loss.

Exercising While Learning

When exercising while learning a language or other subject matter, pick a stress-free form of workout, such as walking or cycling, to avoid overloading your memory circuits. Besides improving your retention, it will boost your focus and attention span, allowing you to stay on task effectively for longer time periods.

There is no explanation yet about what happens inside the brain when a student learns while exercising as opposed to not exercising. Regarding drill specifics, the learning doesn’t have to happen while spending time in a gym or on a stationary bike. The key is physical movement during the learning process, as opposed to sitting down for hours at a time, as latter does not promote retention and active assimilation of knowledge.

Think classroom yoga, hallway steps, or a mini stair stepper at your desk. Even little will do: 10 minutes of bouncing two balls simultaneously improved the attention span of a large group of German teenagers.

Take Your Device with You

Whatever you do to keep moving, take your mobile device with you and try to take in that podcast or another form of learning unit which will feed your brain cells: with oxygen and increased blood circulation from the exercise, turning your course information into knowledge will come with ease.

Did you ever try a language learning App? They are easy to use anywhere you are, just remember that you might need your headphones for the spoken parts. You can find some ideas here.

For any additional information and tips on learning a new language, the Tell team is here for you.