Imagine yourself being in a foreign country, learning Spanish, French, English or Italian. Each morning you go to a class and then spend the afternoon wrapping up homework you’ve been assigned. Learning how to structure sentences, expanding your vocabulary, and practicing proper grammar begin to control your life and your free time. The problem is that being abroad while learning a new language is supposed to be fun, while this routine is not.
Several research projects have shown that exercise empties your mind, actually making it much easier to learn a new language. Scientists suggest that being active throughout the day while learning boosts a process called plasticity. Recently, one study compared the activity of two groups of Chinese students learning English. In one group, students took their standard in-class lessons while another group was sent to ride bikes for 20 minutes before lessons, then continuing their rides on stationary bikes while English words were displayed on a screen in front of them. When both groups were given quizzes on the day’s lessons, researchers found that the active students not only earned higher scores but they also consistently retained proper sentence structure better than the sedentary students. So aside from the combination of the exercise and learning simply sounding like a lot of fun, it turns out pairing a new language with surfing is actually beneficial.