You came to Jordan and want to invest time and energy to learn one of the most difficult languages in the world. But after some time of learning, energy levels feel low, backs hurts, and brain may even hurt! In haste to learn Arabic, people neglect an extremely important element that will keep their body, energy, and brains functioning at high levels. They can end up plateaued in learning, frustrated, and disengaged from their community. So what can be done?
Role of Exercise in Learning a Second Language
I’ve been in Amman for seven years and learned to speak and understand Arabic to a high level. I learned Arabic while opening a business, having a wife and three young kids, and remaining fully engaged with my community. I believe my success in learning Arabic and engaging our community that has to do with two reasons- one of which is my exercise habits (you’ll have to ask me in person for the second reason!). You might say that’s not fair because you own a gym, but I’ve seen many members of my gym trying to learn Arabic. I have observed a noticeable difference in their Arabic compared to those I know outside my gym.
Learn Arabic After High Intensity Exercise
Vocabulary learning is 20% faster when it takes place after high intensity exercise (think short wind sprints). They compared high intensity training to both low intensity (jogging) exercise and a sedentary condition (sitting). The high intensity exercise elicited the strongest increase in the level of brain-derived neurothropic factor which is extremely important for our brains to learn something new. The authors interpret these data as showing that exercise improves learning of, and helps long-term memory for, new vocabulary items. At CrossFit Crescent, almost every training session has a High Intensity Interval Training component to it.
A second cycling research project found the same results- high intensity exercise followed by learning is much more effective. The timing matters. So just before you go into your Arabic session, make sure you get in a training session with high intensity. There are huge benefits to training in the mornings- we give you 9 of them in fact!
Learn Arabic WHILE Exercising
Learning a second language WHILE exercising is also better than just sitting! If high intensity exercise just doesn’t appeal to you right now- that’s ok. A stationary cycling research project showed that learning while cycling was better than performance in the passive condition. This was especially true when they were being shown visual pictures and forced to recall the words. The results of the study are clear-cut: learning a foreign vocabulary while performing a physical activity yields better performance than learning the same vocabulary while being in a static setting. The findings saw improvement not just at the vocabulary level but it even extended into the sentence processing. So grab your recordings of Arabic and go for a slow jog or jump on a rowing machine.
The owner of my language learning center was graciously willing to send a language nurturer to my gym each morning instead of requiring me to come to the language center. My nurturer and I would get up and move around my gym doing simple exercises that didn’t require a ton of brain energy to perform. We’d simply talk about what we’re doing with our bodies. If you are bound to a small room ,get up from your chair as often as you can. Do some air squats, pushups, sit-ups, anything. At our gym our coaches instruct classes in both English and Arabic so you can get invaluable context and repetition to deepen your Arabic.
Keep Your Brain Healthy for Long Term Health
Multiple studies that have shown that exercise positively affects your long term brain health. Exercise has tremendous benefits toward safeguarding your brain from such dangers as Alzheimers Disease. Certain risk factors for Alzheimers you can control. These include:
- Midlife obesity
- Physical inactivity
- Midlife high blood pressure
“Aerobic exercise, especially at a high intensity, has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure, improving glucose control, and improving body composition. However, it also has benefits in the brain. It can improve executive function, which is how you process new information. It also preserves the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that stores new memories. Lastly, it can elevate blood biomarkers that promote new neuron cell growth.” This is why we created our Masters Class just for ages 50 and above!
The evidence is mounting year after year that physical activity improves language learning at every level. You can do simple exercise while learning, or you can do high intensity exercise before your session to supercharge your learning. Can you imagine learning 20% faster? What would that save you in time and money? The average person takes several years to learn Arabic well. Save yourself 9 months of your life now, perhaps thousands of dollars, and give yourself quality of life decades into the future! You can check our schedule to see we have class times all day long to fit your busy schedule.
The First Step
At Crescent, we know everyone faces stress and a fast paced life that drains our energy. Our coaches guide you through efficient workouts & simple nutrition to build new habits to achieve the body, energy, and lifestyle to live with courage in today’s world. Call us at 079 722 8865 to schedule your consultation. Or you can sign up for the time that fits your schedule. We will sit with you to hear your goals, your fitness history, and help you know the right next step!
Where to Learn Arabic in Amman, Jordan
If you are looking at moving to Amman, here is an amazing article about the different Arabic Centers in Amman for an in depth analysis of each. Make sure you asking the right questions in searching for the correct language center for you.
We are partial to two centers in particular. Shababeek Center is an amazing place to learn and is within walking distance of our gym. The Centro Cultural Latino American is another great place to learn Arabic in Rabieh. We’ve had great reviews from people from both centers.