Saturday, June 15, 2013

High-Impact Aerobic Vocabulary Interval Training

Well, I didn't plan on this when I got to the gym today.  But when I stepped on the elliptical machine and started studying my Polish flash cards, I got an idea that I wanted to try out.

I worked out to a moderate pace, which for me is getting to a heart beat of about 130.  I kept that up for a few minutes, and then concentrated on one word on my flash cards.  After looking at the word for about thirty seconds, I started sprinting furiously on the machine until my heartbeat got up to 145, all the time concentrating on memorizing the word and its meaning.  When my heartbeat hit 145, I would then move back to lower-impact activity, slowing down on the machine.  Of course, my heartbeat would continue rising for a short time after I slowed down the activity, usually to about 160-165 (once it rose to 173), and I would keep up the slower activity, relaxing my body and ramping it down more and more, and watch my heart rate go lower from the peak.

When my heart rate would reach 115, I would pick out another word, and start the process again.  Thirty seconds at the "resting" rate of 115, then furiously sprint-pedaling up to 145, lowering the intensity and watching the heart rate go up and then down again, and then starting over with another word at 115.

Here are the cards I took with me to the gym today:

In case you're wondering, where there is a star, it signifies all-new material.  Not that you are wondering.

I got through the first card and about halfway through the second card, and worked out for about an hour.  My average heart rate for the workout was 128.  Then I did review in the sauna afterwards (not so great because the light was burned out, but there was some light coming in from the glass in the door).

I have no idea if this is a successful study strategy per se.  I would actually tend to guess that compared to a control group, it's not terribly great.  Usually studying while exercising is harder, because you're concentrating on doing many other things, and because your body's oxygen and processes are busy with other stuff.  I've found that the more I ramp up the intensity of my exercise, the harder it is to concentrate on the material I am trying to study while I am exercising.  The fact that I only got through one and a half cards in an hour is a little slow for my usual card study too.  Still, both exercise and study are made better by mixing up the routine, so there is surely some benefit to be gained from a new and fresh approach.

But being the freak that I am, I wish that I had more data about this experience.  Like how long it takes from 115 to 145, and then to peak, and then back down again.  Or whether there is variance in time in the intervals as more intervals are completed.  I'm sure there is more stuff I will think of that I wish I had captured data on.  Maybe later.  Now it's time to pay a visit to the chipotle sun-dried tomato hummus that I made a few days ago.


  1. That is superinteresting and a little nuts! Reminds me of the efficiency expert in Cheaper By the Dozen and how he had all kinds of charts and diagrams in the bathroom so that it wasn't "wasted time."

  2. If not a little nuts, maybe full-blown wacko. Anyway, like I said, I don't think in general it's terribly efficient. Studying while exercising is probably not the best way to do either of these things. I think I was just bored.