Why activity helps our brain to learn better and faster

I usually go for a run every other day. Since I currently live in the tropics and it gets really warm here, I have to start rather early. And I don’t want to complain: I actually quite enjoy the peaceful atmosphere during those early hours – no cars, no people, just tranquility and fresh morning air.

While my body starts sweating from the moment I step outside (yes, even at 6.30 in the morning) my brain does this thing where it just runs wild. I stopped running with music in my ears long ago, because I decided I run for pleasure and thus don’t need anything to ‘push’ me – but I well understand, why so many of us enjoy the combination of our exercise routine and those favorite tunes.

So yes, my brain does this thing where – without any warmup at all – it’s doing its own workout: it’s like an explosion of creativity. And it becomes more and stronger with every run (it hasn’t always been like this). Most of my genius ideas are the kind that I don’t really follow up on but it’s still fun to play them through in my head and just explore them mentally. Occasionally, though, I also act on these ideas. One of those is my very first, brand new podcast: WildGerman – Outdoors (A1).

WildGerman – Outdoors is a podcast that is based on recent research

I did some research a while ago and I found out that our brain is way more receptive when our body is moving. That explained why – especially with training – I have so many more ideas when I’m running or hiking. All I need is movement and basically being able to be in my head (if I constantly talk to someone else, my brain is occupied or distracted, so no resources to be creative).

Then, during one of my sweaty morning runs, I thought about my partner learning German even though he has quiet a busy schedule. He loves running too. What if he could combine these things?! Learning German and exercising. That wouldn’t just save him time, it would also be highly effective.

That’s how I came to create WildGerman – Outdoors. And I want to share it with all of you and not just my lovely partner. Instead of sitting in a classroom or at home, the program offers you a chance to get outside (or stay inside if you want to) and get moving, enjoying fresh air and physical exercise while learning German – easier and more beneficial in the long term.

Fresh air, wind, sun, rain – WildGerman – Outdoors offers you an opportunity to learn German and exercise at the same time

Easy as! Build up vocabulary, listening comprehension and speaking skills while enjoying an active outdoor experience. It will not just save you time and make you feel refreshed. You will also be highly receptive of taking in new knowledge and, thus, make better and faster progress.

The combination of learning German and physical activity is a highly effective way to increase your ability to retain new information. This occurs because the human body responds to physical activity by sending signals to the brain that special attention is required. This is an evolutionary trait that developed as a survival response in early human development. For example, for early humans escaping from a predator or finding shelter was a key requirement for surviving and therefore needed more attention. Vice versa, not moving leads your brain to think that not much attention is needed.

Exercise is more than losing weight and having a healthier heart. Wendy Suzuki, a professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University, claims that exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain because it has immediate effects, such as a better memory retention, enhanced focus and attention and an improved mood. As well as persistent improvement if you also change your exercise routine on a long-term basis. Because exercise changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology, and function.

A recent study has proven that learning a language while doing sports is more effective and sustainable. “Exercise makes your brain better. It optimizes your brain’s’ ability to learn, it helps regulate your emotions, it improves your motivation” (Dr. John J. Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Source).

Additional benefits are increased energy levels as well as a clear head, reduced stress and anxiety, and an immediate refill of oxygen while working out.

So, moving your brain will let you learn German quickly and remember it more easily.

WildGerman – Outdoors stands for a designed customized concept that perfectly combines the contents of a language class with athletic activities

Speaking exercises with clear pronunciation advice will be combined with exercises and things you can see and do while you’re walking your dog, going for your morning run or evening bike ride home from work – or even when you move around the house to clean up after the kids. Learning by doing without any immediately needed materials plays a main role in this exploratory teaching concept.

The focus in this first A1 podcast lies on grammatical structures and vocabulary for your everyday life as well as outdoor, sports and nature topics. The practical-oriented episodes will develop more and more into communicative role-plays that can be transferred to reallife situations. Important grammatical structures and vocabulary will be repeated in different contexts and subsequently build and develop your feeling for German.

You decide your level of exercise and you choose which of the suggested exercises you include in your routine. Just make sure you can still focus on the content and your personal language development.

Go the extra mile: If you want to get more out of the podcast, get the extra material per download

For every episode material such as the manuscript, a vocabulary list, a brief grammar overview and some extra exercises to evaluate how much you have learned will be provided when you become part of the team (link). This way you can focus on the class without having to make notes.

I hope this project, that came into existence amidst lots of sweat and accelerated breathing, brings you motivation, joy and most of all provides you with a fun way to learn a (new) language!

Viel Spaß!

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