Walking And Reading And Anki

When I was in school, I lived in a apartment with an unnecessarily huge living room. It was a monstrosity, which I had no idea what to do with. I’m sure if I had more stuff, I could’ve made use of it, but I chose the apartment because it was $400/month and I couldn’t pass that up.

So there I was with all of this empty space. As I was sitting at my desk, which was the only thing in the entire room, I was peacefully doing Anki reviews.

Walking And Reading And Anki 2

I was getting tired, so decided to stand up and stretch a bit. With all the space available to me, I thought I might as well just go for an indoor walk.

Thus began my “Anki Review Loop”

Walking And Reading And Anki 4

This became my new thing. Any time I wanted to do Anki, I was walking, and I discovered a few side effects.

1. It made me want to do Anki more.
2. It was exercise giving me energy.
3. It allowed me to remember more as I was reviewing, and afterwards.
4. It allowed me to continue Anki longer.

I didn’t know what I had stumbled upon, but good things were happening. You could see me in my apartment through my window every day doing this. I loved it.

The idea is simple… today. You guys may be doing this on your phone everywhere. This was before I had a smartphone. So I did my Anki laps carrying this:

Walking And Reading And Anki 5

I get slightly jealous as tech improves daily making studying Japanese easier. Of course I end up using that new tech now, but if I only had it then…

I continued to walk. The benefits were clear. However, since I was doing this so much, I would run out of Anki reviews. While I was still adding new cards, you can only add so much daily. I needed something else. I glanced over at the giant stack of lonely Japanese novels, picked one up, and changed my Anki Laps into Novel Laps.

Shortly after, I realized I had my reading practice and my Anki practice, but what about speaking? In the end, I would walk around in circles for hours reading books out loud. That was me in 2009.

Fast forward to today

Walking And Reading And Anki

I have a tiny apartment in NYC, with a living room the size of my desk at my previous apartment. Since I can’t do my Novel Laps inside, I took them outside. I use a pedestrian area that doesn’t have many people walking by and have (carefully) continued to do it there (this time with a smartphone).

You might be thinking this would be dangerous, or distracting, or that I should do this on a treadmill at a gym, but there is something about actually walking while reading that makes me want to do it, and it has been working out quite well. It gives me energy, and allows me to focus on fitness and Japanese. I don’t know the benefits to exercising and studying at the same time, but I know that exercise improves your ability to study, so I see only good things.

Exercise and Japanese

Do any of you study/read/use Japanese while you are on the move? Has it made any difference?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Walking And Reading And Anki — 31 Comments

  1. I started doing this a few months ago, either in the house or in the garden if it’s raining.. It’s the only way I can do my reviews now and struggling to get through more than 10 cards when sitting down.

    +1 Would recommend :)

  2. For the last couple months I’ve been doing Anki reviews at the gym with an iPad mini propped up in front of me on the elliptical. It has been great!

    Such a great way to create some Anki momentum for the day, and it frees up 30 minutes a day since I’m doing two daily habits at the same time. I’ve felt the same thing — there’s something about studying while exercising that makes them both fly by. Usually I’m 15 minutes into reviews before I think to look at how much time has passed.

    I also read on my kindle on the elliptical sometimes with the text increased to gigantic.

    I like the image of you walking around your apartment carrying that laptop :P I’ll have to find a clear path and try doing reviews outside too!

    • Yeah, definitely recommended when your reviews get high, because while you are exercising, you aren’t focusing on how many cards you have left.

      Yes, try it outside. It brings a different feel to it.

  3. The apartment where I live has a very long corridor where I walk, it makes reviewing so much faster, also I feel I get a higher percentage of correct answers.

  4. Thank you for the idea, definitely doing this. I have a hyggggge closet and barely any clothes in it compared to its size. I’ll start walking in my closet haha

    • Oh crap Adam this works!! Even though my reviews took longer than usual I did not feel drained and I didn’t take a break in between! Thank you so much for this article!! I urge everyone to try this just to see if it works for them because it definitely did for me!

      • I’m happy to hear it worked for you! It really does work, and makes more of a difference than most people imagine, so everyone should give it a try. I can say affirmatively that it changed my Japanese studying for the better.

  5. I have gotten pretty good at doing this in Tokyo. The trick is to follow people and keep their hips in your peripheral vision. When you see them twist to avoid obstacles you know you need to do the same.

    (I will say it’s a bit biased towards LINE Laps instead of Anki Laps, but same idea.)

  6. I do at least 50 reviews a day while shopping, taking down the trash, etc. This is definitely easier to get through than the reps I do while sitting down for a proper a session. No mental drain and it’s time that would be wasted anyway. I’m sure people find it weird, but I have doing this for over a year now, and I honestly don’t care anymore. I also very good at staying aware of my surroundings while doing it, but I prefer to walk behind right behind someone else so I can focus more :)

    This and and my morning grind session is how I get through Anki (see the article about mornings elsewhere on this site).

    • I think people talk on their phones so much these days in public that they don’t find it weird anymore when people look at their screens and talk. The only thing I guess that stands out is the language, but it depends on where you live and if other languages are spoken a lot.

      There needs to be a “Don’t sit and Anki” movement. It just makes everything better.

  7. Oh hey, what a great idea. Except I guess if someone snatched my phone, that would suck.

    There is definitely something about physical movement that makes it easier to concentrate.

    • I’m not sure how dangerous it is where you live, but I know some things female friends do to avoid this kind of theft is:

      – Use a case (especially if you have an Iphone)
      – Carry the phone firmly with both hands
      – Make sure you are looking up constantly and staying aware of your surrounding

  8. I’ve tried this a couple times and I really like it. I’ve been walking over to this “forest” path near my house early in the morning. I’m also listening to my iPod so that it doesn’t feel as weird when I pass by someone (since other people go out with headphones). It’s great because I’m exercising, studying Anki, and listening to immersion at the same time so it’s an absurdly efficient use of time (and I am able to give each plenty of attention).

    Given the tasks I’m juggling, I do seem to be studying a bit slower, but I don’t get tired with it like I usually do. And the best part is that I have to walk back. This means that I have all this walking time to kill so there really isn’t an argument against continuing to study.

  9. That’s actually a cool idea. I usually walk around a lot when I’m thinking hard about something. That might just be a task for university, but it also might concern difficult decisions in life… It usually drives my boyfriend mad *aha* (our appartment is rather small).
    In general I don’t carry anything around with me and I think walking in our appartment with my mobile wouldn’t work so well, because there are just too many corners… but there’s something like a very small park in front of our apartment block (more like a 50x100m lawn with a couple of trees…) which I think could make a nice “walking while doing reviews” place :D I’ll definitely try that!

  10. This makes me wish I still had my stationary bike… this would be the perfect way to get study in AND exercise! I remember in high school I would make it a point to play video games while riding the stationary bike and it was great! I even got to the point where I could play rock band guitar on expert while biking, so studying shouldnt be too hard haha

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