The connection between creativity and exercise is undeniable. It begins with basic science: while exercising, more blood than usual is pumping to your brain, delivering it more oxygen and nutrients, enabling your brain to functioning at maximum efficiency. Following this logic, fresh ideas are more likely to ‘just flow’ during your workout (or shortly after) than during other times of day.
However, recent studies are proving an even stronger link, declaring exercise a “cognitive enhancer promoting creativity”. Stanford University released a study last year that found even just walking improves creative inspiration. Participants in the study took a ‘divergent thinking creativity test’ while walking and while seated, and 60% higher results were reported while walking. These results were specific to creative thinking; when tested on ‘focused thinking’ (questions requiring a single correct answer), participants scored slightly worse while walking. Interestingly, there was no difference in the results between those walking on a treadmill indoors and those walking outdoors, where it might be supposed that more creativity would be found.
Further research is currently being done to support the theory that if we exercise more, our creativity will be significantly enhanced. Expert in the field, neurologist Wendy Suzuki, shares more about her recent studies in her short YouTube video and in her latest book, Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain And Do Everything Better.
If you needed any motivation to get out there and get moving, there you have it. This is a relatively new field of study; in the coming years we should have a lot more information on the subject. Until then, it’s safe to say that boosting your creativity is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. So, whether you’re trying to find a solution to a problem (not a math problem, but a life problem) or just looking for some inspiration, get out there and break a sweat. Or simply go for a stroll. (just more proof that exercise is fabulous your body, mind and soul.)
* Song For This Moment: “Warm Minds” by Robin Schulz.
“The Impact of Physical Exercise on Convergent and Divergent Thinking“, article in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
“Stanford Study Finds Walking Improves Creativity“, Stanford University website.