How you can fuel creativity through exercise
Heading outside for a daily walk could get your creativity flowing beyond your expectations, says NADIA magazine fitness expert Kat Stanley. We take a look at what getting moving can do for you physically and mentally.
Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson runs every morning, American playwright and author Kurt Vonnegut walked to his nearby town, swam laps and did push-ups and sit-ups, and Beethoven and Tchaikovsky both walked daily. Take their lead by choosing your method of exercise and starting small to avoid over-exertion.
Directly after exercise we are more focused and relaxed as our heart rate drops to a resting state, which is ideal when we need the mind to wander to new places. Being fitter means being more proactive, more energetic, more passionate AND more creative.
Exercising clearly enhances cognitive creativity in a healthy and inexpensive way. So head out the door and use your body as a catalyst for the mind!
But what kind of exercise? And how do I start?
The general consensus is that regular aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming is good for the ability to think flexibly and creatively, but only if the body is used to being active. For someone who is currently inactive, the best advice is to begin by developing a regular activity routine and gradually increase the time spent exercising. Resistance training, balance and muscle-toning exercises have a much lesser effect on the brain, despite their wonderful effects on the physique.
How exactly does it work?
Part of the explanation of why exercise enhances cognitive functioning has to do with blood flow. More blood means more energy and oxygen, which makes our brains perform better. Exercise also boosts the production of neurotransmitters – including serotonin, one of our happy hormones – which stimulates growth in the hippocampus (the part of the brain critical for learning and memory), thus improving cognitive function.
This originally appeared in the June/July issue of NADIA magazine.