Learn Japanese while you exercise Part 1: How to Say Sports in Japanese

Learn Japanese while you exercise Part 1: How to Say Sports in Japanese

If you enjoy bettering yourself everyday through learning a new language like Japanese and achieving physical health and fitness, this lesson is for you.

Today, we will look at some exercise movements that you can incorporate in your workout routine.

After this lesson, you will learn to:

・Make Japanese speaking friends through fitness

・Become fit and learn Japanese at the same time

・Better your mind and body

Let’s get right into it!


準備運動 – じゅんびうんどう – junbi undou

準備 comes from the word to prepare or preparation and 運動 means sports or exercise.

To break down this down a little more, so it will be easier for you to understand and memorize the word, 運 comes from the word 運ぶ (はこぶ, hakobu) this means to transport. And, 動 comes from the word, 動く (うごく, ugoku)

So, if you want to say exercise in Japanese, thinking of the words 運ぶ to transport and 動く to move.

You can also use the term ウォーミング・アップ (うぉーみんぐ・あっぷ woomingu appu) that directly derives from the English term warming-up.

One of the most important exercise movements we need for injury prevention and for better performance.

Warm-ups are taken very seriously in Japan, and often done extensively.

Here are some sample scenarios you can use this in:


Basuke shiyou yo!
Let’s play basketball!


Un! iiyo!
Yes! Let’s do it!


Ja, junbi undou wo hajimeyou.
So, let’s start warming up.


ストレッチ運動 – すとれっち うんどう – sutorecchi undou

ストレッチ as you might have already guessed, comes from stretch in English.

And, this one you are familiar with, 運動 comes from exercise.

Also a must in your exercise routine is stretching. It is also often an understated movement, but still one of the most important.

Here is how you can incorporate this new word:


boku, karada ga katai.
I have a very stiff body.


まいにち すとれっち は かかさず に やらないとね。
mainishi sutorecchi wa kakasazu ni yaranai tone.
You can’t skip stretching every day.

Aerobic Exercises

有酸素運動 – ゆうさんそ うんどう – yuuki sanso undo

有酸素 directly means with oxygen.

literally means with or containing of and 酸素 on the other hand means oxygen.

Together, the direct translation is 有 + 酸素 = with oxygen.

These are naturally the type of exercise that use a lot of oxygen such as most cardio workouts; swimming, marathon running, walking and the likes.

On the other hand, there is also what’s called 無酸素 (むさんそ musanso undou) meaning without oxygen.

meaning without or none.

What are non-oxygen exercises then? These would be more sports with explosive movements such as lifting weights and short running.

This is another easy way to remember the association of the meaning of cardio or aerobics and how you say it in Japanese.

Aerobics exercise or also known as Cardio in English can also be called エアロビクス運動 (eyarobikusu undou). This one’s a bit easier to memorize since it comes from the word Aerobics itself.

However, it may be more natural to say 有酸素運動 or even カーディオ (かーでぃお kaadio) which comes from the word cardio.

Now, let’s look at some sample scenarios where you can use them!


Ore wa yuusanso undou ga tokui dane. Chou kyori ga suki nanda!
I’m better at cardio workouts. I really like marathon running!


そうなんだ〜。おれは やっぱり きんとれ とか が すき だね。きんにく つけたいし。
Is that so? I like weight training more. I want to build more muscle, too.


ランニング – らんにんぐ – ranningu

As you may have already guessed, this derives directly from the English word running.

However, there a lot of ways to say this exercise depending on the specific type of running.

For example,long distance runningis長距離 (ちょうきょり – choukyori), andsprintsis短距離 (たんきょり)

So, let’s look into these two types of running then.

Let’s break down the Kanji from each word and see its meaning.

長距離 (ちょうきょり – choukyori),is used in the word長い (ながい – nagai)which means long. Now, 距離 (きょり – kyori)meansdistancein Japanese.

短距離 (たんきょり – tankyori)on the other hand has the Kanjiwhich comes from the word短い (みじかい – mijikai)which meansshort. The same as long running, 距離 (きょり – kyori) means distance.

When you combine these small pieces together, it becomes a very simple combo:

・長 (long) + 距離 (distance) = long distance, long distance running

・短 (short) + 距離 (distance) = short distance, short distance running

That was really simple and easy wasn’t it!

Now, let’s look a scenario where you can start using them!


らんにんぐ に いきたいな。
I want to go for a run.


ちょうきょり を はしりたいの。たんきょり を はしりたいの。
Do you want to go a long distance run or do you want to do sprints?


水泳 – すいえい – suiei

Let’s break down the word then shall we?

水 (みず – mizu)means water in Japanese, andcomes from the word泳ぐ (およぐ – oyogu)which meansswim r to swim.

Another way of saying swimming is the word スイミング (すいみんぐ – suimingu) which again comes from the word swimming in English.

That was fairly simple, so let’s see how we can start using it.


きょう はしりにいきませんか
Do you want to go for a swim later tonight?


もちろん! じゃ、みずぎ と ゴーグル を とり に いってくるね
Sure! I’ll pick up my swimsuit and goggles then.

How was it? Do you think you’re ready to make friends at your local Japanese gym and get pumped together?

Here’s also a fun fact about fitness in Japan:

Have you ever heard of ラジオ体操 (rajiyo taisou) or also translates to Radio Gymnastics?

This is a famous workout routine that is followed all over Japanese schools and even Japanese companies!

Often done as part of a daily routine during a morning round-up meeting or school meeting.

It’s a great way to warm-up and freshen up before you start studying or working.

See you at Part 2 of Learn Japanese through exercising, so you can learn more types of exercises and sports in Japanese!

See ya!

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