Let's Get Physical: 5 Ways To Boost Creativity Through Exercise
Do you ever find yourself struggling with creativity? When typically, inspiration comes to you unbidden at random and frequently, suddenly you have to chase after new and innovative ideas instead. And while it’s a frustrating feeling, thankfully, many of us have experienced the same at some point in our lives—which means there’s a simple way to get your creativity back. In fact, it’s probably not one you expect: exercise.
While most people associate it and physical activity with physical health benefits like weight loss, increased muscle strength, and better cardiovascular health,research has shown that exercise can also have a significant impact on creativity. Hitting the gym, going for a run, or even just taking a walk can actually give your brain a boost and unlock your full creative potential.
In today’s post, we'll explore the surprising ways that exercise and physical activity can enhance your creativity so you can start incorporating more movement into your daily routine. Whether you're a writer struggling to come up with the next great story idea or an artist searching for inspiration—and any other creative in between—the benefits of exercise on your creativity are undeniable.
1. It increases blood flow to the brain.
Have you ever noticed that after a workout, you feel more alert and focused? There's a good reason for that! Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn can improve cognitive function—creativity included. It enhances creative thinking, problem-solving, and idea generation.
This is likely because exercise increases the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a “key molecule involved in plastic changes related to learning and memory”, which has been linked to improved cognitive function.
2. It reduces stress and anxiety.
It's no secret that stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on our mental health, but aside from that, it can also stifle creativity. When we are stressed or anxious, our minds become preoccupied with negative thoughts and worries, leaving little room for creative thinking.
Exercise has been proven time and time again as an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety which then helps open up your mind to new creative possibilities. This is because physical activity helps release endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals: it improves mood and reduces stress levels.
But it’s not just all that either! Exercise can also provide a much-needed break from the stress and demands of daily life. In this way, you can clear your mind and recharge your batteries so that you can approach creative tasks with renewed energy and focus.
3. It can stimulate the release of endorphins.
Have you ever heard of a runner's high? It's that euphoric feeling that some people experience after a long run or other intense physical activity. This feeling is caused by the release of endorphins.
One of the ways it enhances creativity is by promoting a positive mood. When you’re happy, it's easier to approach the creative work you’re doing with enthusiasm. You have the drive and motivation, not to mention the ideal mindset, to create. It also helps reduce stress, which can help you stay focused on what you’re working on. Stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout—things that can be significant roadblocks to creativity.
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4. It can improve memory and cognitive function.
Creativity is often described as the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, concepts, or objects. It requires not only your imagination and originality but also strong memory and cognitive function. Memory is essential when it comes to creativity since it allows us to draw from our past experiences and knowledge to create something new.
Since exercise is known to have a positive impact on both, the next time you're feeling creatively blocked, consider taking a break and engaging in a physical activity. Brisk walking or an all out marathon, you’re going to thank yourself for it later!
5. It can help to break through mental blocks.
Almost every creative out there has experienced at least one creative block in their lifetime. Thankfully, physical activity can help you overcome it by providing a change of scenery and stimulating your brain in a different way.
If you've been sitting at your desk staring at a blank screen for hours, getting up and going for a walk can help you clear your mind and come back to your work with a fresh perspective. It can also give you a chance to step away from your project and let your mind wander, which can often lead to new ideas and creative solutions.
When you exercise, you’re also engaging different parts of your brain and activating different neural pathways. This can help to spark creativity and make it easier to come up with new ideas.
What are you waiting for? Get physical now!
There are numerous benefits to exercise that go beyond physical and mental health which can help enhance or bring back your creativity. With positive effects like these, what’s stopping you from this practice? It’s never too late to start.
What particular instances has exercise helped you become more creative? What was the result? Share it with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear your story!