What is the connection between a hippopotamus and a university?
The hippocampus, of course! This is the part of our brain that takes care of remembering new things and learning.
Many recent studies have shown that physical exercise can actually increase the size of the hippocampus. This means that we might be able to remember more information if we are physically healthy than if we are inactive.
For example, one study showed that we can remember more information if we learn it while we are walking or cycling. Of course, this doesn't mean you should try to read your textbook when you're cycling to work! But it does mean that listening to an English podcast or the CD from your Freedom lesson textbook when you're walking to the train station in the morning could help you to remember more vocabulary. Or you could read a book on your phone while you are pedalling slowly on the gym's exercise bike.
One further benefit of exercise is that it can help slow the effects of getting older. Some studies have shown that just 45 minutes of walking three times a week can help slow down memory loss and possibly even help prevent dementia.
So whichever way we look at it, it is very clear to see that we should also take good care of our physical health when we are trying to improve our mental performance. From a personal point of view, I'm going to watch more Japanese movies and dramas when I use my indoor bicycle trainer. And even if it doesn't help me massively improve my Japanese vocabulary, at least I'll have fun!