Thanet Writers Research Exercise and Creativity

Writer David Chitty researches the effect of exercise on creativity on behalf of Thanet Writers.

Image Credit: 
Thomas Eakins / Public Domain

Exercise is something that has a multitude of well-known and documented health benefits—both physically and mentally—and it is often cited as a way to boost creativity or help alleviate writers’ block. But is there any truth to the claims that it can help you be more creative?

In a word: yes. While some of the research is in its early stages, there is a fair amount of evidence to show that it does have a positive effect on your creativity. The main thing that exercise does in this regard is strengthen your hippocampus. The hippocampus is a part in your brain that works on motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. When we exercise, it stimulates new brain cells to be grown in that region as well as makes those cells live longer than in someone who doesn’t exercise.

Although most parts of the brain are involved in just about everything that we do, it is thought that one of the centres of the creative process is the hippocampus, so it makes sense that improving that part of the brain would result in a better creative process.

Unfortunately, not all exercises are equal in their impact on the body, and the exercise that has the biggest effect on the hippocampus—and by extension on creativity—is aerobic exercise. The main difference between the two different types of exercise—aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (strength/weight training)—is how your body gets the energy to perform the tasks. With aerobic, your body uses oxygen to power your body. Your breathing and heart rates go up as your body supplies your muscles with more oxygen. Anaerobic doesn’t use oxygen as energy, it uses the stored energy for short, immediate bursts of energy. It’s this difference that decides the impact it will have on the body and aerobic exercise is the one that has the greatest impact on the hippocampus.

I don’t have to tell you that exercise is good for you or that it has an untold level of benefit to your health. But, if you’re not exercising enough and you’re hitting a rough patch creatively, maybe working in a bit of cardio into your routine a few times a week will help those creative juices flow a bit more easily.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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