Is It True That People Who Exercise Are More Creative?
It has been suggested that people who get regular exercise tend to be more creative. But is it true? If so, it might explain why legions of actors, musicians, etc. make daily exercise part of their routines. It also might explain why you feel a burst of creativity every time you take a spinning class or go for a long run.
An Austrian study published in the summer of 2020 confirms a definite link between exercise and creativity. However, that link may not be due to how exercise affects a person’s mood. That is important to note because previous studies have suggested as much. The Austrian study seems to disprove that theory.
Movement Encourages Creativity
New York Times columnist Gretchen Reynolds discussed the Austrian study in a post published in early February 2021. She began her post by discussing past studies indicating an indirect link between exercise and creativity by way of mood changes. In other words, the studies suggested that any link between exercise and creativity was indirect.
The previous thinking was that regular exercise can improve a person’s mood. Improving mood then has an ancillary effect on creativity. People with a better outlook on life tend to be more creative. That was the idea. However, the Austrian researchers found this to not be the case.
Their study looked at exercise, mood, and creativity simultaneously. It enlisted the help of seventy-nine healthy test subjects who were provided activity trackers for five days. At the end of the five days, they were brought to a lab where they engaged in creative activities. They were also asked to complete mood surveys.
Crunching the collected data revealed a correlation between exercise and creative output. However, there was no link between creative output and mood. As Reynolds put it, “people could walk often and be quite creative but not be especially happy.”
Exercising to Increase Creativity
Although the Austrian researchers did find a link between regular exercise and creativity, they have no explanation. That is the way this sort of thing often goes. It is easy to establish links between things. It’s not so easy to explain why those links exist. Thus the scientific principle that correlation does not equal causation.
So what do you do if you want to increase your creativity by exercising more often? Choose an exercise you both enjoy and can engage in easily enough. Salt Lake City’s Mcycle studio suggests indoor cycling. Some of their customers visit the studio for regular cycling classes, others take online classes at home. You can ride a stationary bike without a class at all.
Indoor cycling is ideal for people looking for low-impact exercise. If cycling is not your thing, another low-impact option is swimming. But that requires access to a public pool or your own swimming pool at home. That might make swimming impractical.
You can always jog or walk. If neither of those appeal to you, there is a whole litany of possible exercises ranging from tennis to pickle ball and golf. The point is to pick something and do it. Remember that the Austrian study stresses movement. The more you move, the more creative you are likely to be.
Good for the Body and Mind
The best way to close this post is to remind readers that exercise is good for the body and mind. Our bodies were designed to move. And when we do so, it improves our state of mind by increasing blood flow to the brain and encouraging the production of certain brain chemicals. Whether it makes us more creative or not, exercise is still good for us.