Everybody knows that you’re supposed to work out a few times a week in order to stay in shape and keep your body healthy. But are there any brain-benefits to a regular workout routine? Can exercise improve learning Japanese?
It’s an interesting question since it’s something that’s never taught at universities or in online courses, but there are actually some surprising benefits when it comes to going for a run and improving your Japanese vocabulary.
Much like the way that meditation can help you learn Japanese indirectly, exercising regularly can also help to improve your brain so that the information goes in more easily, and your memory is stronger for when you need to retrieve that information later.
There was an article posted on Science Daily about it that you can find by clicking here.
But what is basically says is that “when people exercise regularly, it changes the strcture of the brain.” It actually ends up “increasing the amount of elastic tissue that is found in the brain in the areas that deal with memory.”
So if you find that you have a hard time learning and remembering new Japanese words, then you might think about improving those parts of your brain so that it’s easier for you the next time you sit down to study.
Some Recommendations on Exercising
For me, what I find works well is to simply find some exercises that challange you somewhat, so that you have to work to complete it, but nothing that is too over the top that you will end up quitting. Let me give some examples:
I don’t go to the gym. I think it takes too long to drive out to it, work on the machines that are currently available (since you haveto share), and then drive back and shower.
So instead of that, I bought myself a 10 pound medecine ball and a 35 pound kettlebell and now I just workout at home.
Considering how much time I would spend driving, I probably save myself two hours per week by doing it at my place. And as for money, I think I spent a total of just under $100 for all of my things, which is way less than a year of a gym’s membership.
The truth is that unless you are trying to build up really big muscles for sports or something, you probably don’t really need to use all of those different machines that you find at the gym.
Of course you don’t want all of your work to be anaerobic (weight lifting), you also want to get some aerobic work done too, something that will elevate you heart rate and keep it there for a while.
I used to run a lot in order to cover this aspect of my training, but even thought I really enjoyed running, I just felt that it would take too long. I would spend about an hour in total of running and then cooling off afterwords.
So I did a little research and learning about High Intensity Interval Training (also known as HIIT) which is WAY harder than running, but it only takes 15 minutes to do and it is actually a better workout.
From my personal story you’ll notice two particular things:
- I don’t like to spend a lot of time working out.
- I do what works for me personally
There are so many articles and opinions out there when it comes to the health and fitness space, but all I recommend you do (if you’re thinking of starting) is to find something from each type (anaerobic & aerobic) that you like, and will do on a consistant basis over time.
Exercising is like taking a shower: it wears off! So you gotta do it again and again.
But the difference is that you only need to workout about 3-4 times per week (depending on how hard you go at it) in order to receive the benifits of it, which of course includes increased brain power and memory.
Sleep and the Breath
One of the reasons that you don’t want to work out too much is because your body needs time to recover and build new muscles.
I typically only workout every other day or so.
And when I do, it’s only for 15-20 minutes. Do you think you could workout for a total of 60 minutes per week? I certainly can, and it’s one of the reasons why I do.
Why not set yourself up for success right?
I’m certainly no health expert (this entire post is just my opinion), but I’ve learned from others what works and is efficient. It has worked for me as well.
When you workout, you body is going to need enough sleep for it to recover. So don’t over do it and injure yourself!
You also need sleep in order to learn Japanese.
When you fall asleep, you brain actually starts to organize all of the information it took in during the day and stores it away into places that it can retrieve later.
Plus when you get enough sleep, you feel energized which is an ideal state for absorbing new information. What most people find is that when they are tired, they really can’t learning anything new. That of course includes Japanese.
So make sure that you get enough sleep for both learning Japanese and exercising.
As for the breath, did you know that most people who don’t exercise are shallow breathers?
Unless your body has a reason (like working out) to expell all of the air in your lungs and take in lots of new fresh air, it will typically do the easy thing and only expell the top portion of air in your lungs when you exhale.
Not getting enough new air is one of the reasons for poor health and fatigue in adults.
It’s not really most people’s fault since they’ve never been taught all of this information, but it makes sense when you think about it. You need all of that fresh air to enter your bloodstream and travel around your body in order to function at 100%.
What do you typically do when you aren’t getting enough air and are falling asleep at your desk?
You yawn – Your body’s trying to tell you it needs more air!
What About Food and Drink?
The funny thing is that, pretty much everybody knows how to eat healthy, but most people don’t!
I find that you don’t need to go spartin and cut all of the bad things out of your meals, but rather you just need to work on limiting them a bit more.
Try not to eat out at fast food places so much, try not to overeat (that’s a major one) at every meal, and do what you can to minimize your sugar intake.
I think most people (in America at least) end up consuming way too much sugar from candy and soda pop, and this ends up making them tired all day after the surgar rush ends.
Hey, I know it tastes great! It’s just not really that great for anything else. I read that sugar basically turns into fat right away and provides no nutritional value to the body.
Do I eat sugar? Of course I do! I just try to keep it to one cookie instead of four when I do.
But I did stop the sugar in my drinks. From my experience it is just WAY too easy to consume 500 calories extra per day when you are drinking them.
I actually did the math once and found out that if all I did was stop drinking soda (no other changes) I would lose three pounds per month. That’s how much Dr. Pepper I was having every day!
The reason food and drink are so important is because, just like air, it’s what your body uses as fuel. If you put crap into your body all day, then you’ll typically feel like crap too.
Eat better = function better.
But You Still Have to Study Japanese
Of course at the end of the day you still have to study and practice Japanese in order to learn it.
Working out won’t directly help to improve your Japanese skills (unless you listen to it on a run or something) but what it will do is to improve your mind and your body so that when you go to learn Japanese, you will have an easier time doing it.
The bottom line is this: your brian and body are connected. Anytime you can improve your body, you brain will benifit from it and improve as well. And when your brain improves, you become better at learning Japanese.
I think the biggest reason why most people don’t work out, is simply because they don’t have a strong enough reason to do so.
So if you need a reason, how about working out so that you are able to learn Japaese faster than you normally would?
Try it out and let me know your results!
Write what you think about it with a comment below!