5 tips for combining exercise and language learning

Healthy body, healthy mind, better learning!
Exercise is not just good for the body, it’s been proven to keep our mind muscles healthy and toned as well. With a little imagination and planning, you can combine exercise and language learning. Doing them at the same time is easier than you might think, and it has some real benefits. You can save time, improve your discipline, and possibly even retain more information if you make learning a part of your fitness plan.


Combine Exercise and Language Learning:

  • While you run
  • In the gym
  • While pumping iron
  • As you walk
  • Exercise in between lessons


Proven benefits of learning while exercising

A study conducted in China and Italy found that exercise helped improve foreign-language vocabulary retention. Researchers divided the participants into two groups. One group of language-learners learned English while seated in rote vocabulary-memorization sessions. In contrast, the other group rode exercise bikes at a gentle pace beginning 20 minutes before starting the lessons and continuing throughout the 15 minutes of instruction. By the end of each class, the students who had ridden bikes performed better on post-lesson vocabulary tests than those who sat still.

5 ways to combine exercise and language learning

1. Language learning while you run

Running is a great way to stay fit and it presents a great opportunity for learning! Slip on your earphones as you jog and listen to podcasts, vocab lists, or really anything in your new language. Rosetta Stone’s Audio Companion feature is especially useful. It enables you to revise the vocabulary in all your Rosetta Stone lessons, hands-free.

2. Language learning on a fitness machine

Climb aboard your stepper or spinning machine and plug yourself in for a steady session of language inputs. As many gym machines keep your core steady, it’s very easy to divert your attention to other things. Some people watch television, read a book, or have a phone conversation while they are working out. You could easily work through a Rosetta Stone lesson or read and listen to one of the accompanying Stories during this time.   

Language and Exercise

3. Language learning as you train with weights

Interval training with weights requires a lot of short pauses. It’s important to take enough time in-between lifts as well as not too much. Instead of just staring at a stopwatch, you can use this time as a good moment to pick up the app and answer a question or two. Then repeat the vocabulary you’ve learnt out loud as you push through the reps!

4. Language learning on a walk

Walking is a great opportunity to have relaxed conversations. Striding out takes the pressure off a one-to-one interaction and makes it a particularly enjoyable way to practise speaking a new language. Perhaps you can find a language exchange friend who likes to go for a stroll too? Of course, walking is also a great opportunity to listen to any podcasts or audio material you have. 

5. Incorporating exercise into your language learning

Of course, this also works the other way around. Even if you’re not about to go out and sign yourself up at the local fitness centre, it can still be a good idea to incorporate some mini-exercises into your learning regime. It’s important to have regular breaks if you are doing a long session of learning. Maybe do some jumping jacks before you begin, complete two 10-minute lessons, and then stay active with another quick workout like squats or power walking. You can also try some desk exercises so that you won’t even have to leave your workspace!

Start training with your new gym-companion today

About the Author Simon Goodall

Language learner, teacher and contributing author to the Rosetta Stone magazine