Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Can Exercise Boost Your Creativity?

What is creativity?

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new, and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object. 


What is exercise?

Exercise is a physical or mental activity to keep you strong, healthy or skilled at something.


How do they form a hybrid?

“Do not believe any idea that was not born in the open air and of free movement—in which the muscles do not also revel, sit as little as possible.”  Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

The choices we make that can improve our mental and physical wellbeing today are actually things that will improve our brain health and longevity. 

So yes, exercise and creativity are connected.

Creative artists do endorse the power of exercise to unclutter the mind—


“Theorise While Walking” is a habit of philosophers — Immanuel Kant, Henry David Thoreau, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nietzsche to name a few.


Literary history is veined with writers who extol exercise—

Ernest Hemingway boxed, 

Kathy Acker was into bodybuilding, 

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami devoted a book to running,

Philip Roth maintained his prowess well into his seventies by swimming daily.

Nathlie Provosty, a Dutch artist, runs three to five times a week. “When I’m still, the mind can race, but when I run, I can step out of the mind and watch the thoughts, rather than being in the film, I can watch the film of my own thoughts, creating a relationship of sequence, and I can get very clear on ideas and possibilities.” 

Guido van der Werve, composes the music for his films, and competes in triathlons, “The act of running (or biking or swimming) is especially helpful for orchestration. Many days I sit behind my piano trying to compose for a lot of different instruments at once. It’s quite difficult because music is time-based, so you can’t really sit down and look at it—it disappears. Going for a run makes me sharper, it helps me to stay focused, to concentrate, and also you create endorphins, which makes you feel better.”

Akshay Kumar, Bollywood actor, a martial artist who performs his own stunts for his movies, has voiced how this form of exercise keeps his creativity flowing and helps reinvent himself for each film. 

Actor, Kiara Advani dabbles in various forms of exercise from running to kick boxing to weight training, all this quite visible in her screen presence, apart from keeping her nerves together it acts as an aid to get into the frame of reference of the character she has to play for the day with a clear mind.

A study conducted by Leiden University in The Netherlands, found that people who exercise four times a week are able to think more creatively than those who live a sedentary lifestyle. 


The reason? 

“Physical Exercise” trains your brain to become more flexible in finding creative solutions.

“Alternate Uses” is an exercise that encourages divergent thinking – It is the ability to generate ideas or solutions from a single idea or a piece of information with a time limit of three minutes. This skill is thought to be one of the most important factors of creativity.

 The hybrid of physical exercise and alternate uses of exercise is dynamite.


How can I be creative with fitness?
  1. Explore on Foot. Walk, Walk, Walk, anywhere, to any place, at any time. The simplest, cheapest and most sustainable form of exercise.
  2. High Energy Recreation. A game of tennis, beach volleyball, football, any outdoor sport. It’s fun, it’s your vitamin D for life, it’s detoxifying.
  3. The Indoor Way Out. Weight training, the gym or an indoor sport like Table Tennis, Squash, and Badminton, all bring strength to the body.
  4. Take a Class. Be it a Yoga class, Pilates, Indoor Aerobics, there is an extensive menu out there, a daily change of exercise form to keep you connected would be a good idea.
  5. Personal Trainer. Get one if you need to be motivated, it’s worth the bucks. Good looking will add to the incentive, what say?
  6. Meditative Exercising. Is not to be discounted, ten minutes of deep breathing and meditation to kick start your day, sets you on the right foot.

Scientists at Stanford University affirmed Nietzsche’s predilection for perambulation. 

The study showed that walking significantly improves certain types of cognitive efforts involved in creativity, specifically convergent thinking, such as the ability to come up with solutions to a problem, and divergent thinking, which involves conceiving open-ended, original ideas. 

Exercise tends to improve convergent thinking in those who exercise three or more times per week — studies show.

Creativity, itself is a fuzzy term, it flourishes in ways that go well beyond divergent or convergent thinking or certain emotional states, such as feeling good, light-heartedness, calm — thus reducing anxiety, fear and helping induce the flow states that are foundational to creative work or a life full of creativity.

The three pillars that are essential to well-being and longevity are —



Staying Social

Not necessarily in this order, but definitely interconnected. 

Do you satisfy each of the pillars?

Do you find it harder to get a good night’s sleep than you used to?

Do you find it difficult making time to exercise?

Are you stuck in a routine where getting out and letting your hair down seems a distant dream?


“The notion that you have to sacrifice your future health in order to enjoy yourself now is long outdated, yet far too commonly held.” 

Dr. Kate Gregorevic (Royal Melbourne Hospital)


Go get your daily quota of seven to eight hours of sleep to jump out of bed each day for your exercise routine to stay lively and social through the day, maybe even stretching a few days into the late hours of the evening for a drink at the club with your buddies.

It’s the (no) secret recipe.


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