We all know that exercise is good for you… Any self-respecting doctor would avidly recommend exercise as a lifestyle option ripe for adoption, whether it improves our creativity or not. The question is how can exercise increase our fitness and all round well-being while equally contributing to our creativity as writers and bloggers? I think it’s an interesting discussion that we should all engage with and exercise should be considered, not just as a healthy lifestyle option, but a necessity for success. Not just in creative fields but in all careers! Just because I don’t have to carry scaffolding on my shoulders at work all day doesn’t mean I don’t carry other wieghts with me… metaphorical, mental or physical. Exercise can prepare us, make our bodies more supple for the inevitable stress we put on them but it can also apply this resilience to the mind.
At a time where mental health issues seem to be on the rise and creativity appears to be barren in an age of information I suggest you take a look…
For hundreds of years great thinkers, philosophers and writers have recommended exercise as a habit which can greatly enrich a person’s thinking. Characters like Frederiech Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the usual philosophy suspects made it a habit to walk and theorise. Writers including the likes of Haruki Marukami have also adopted exercise routines purely for the benefits to their work.
The Hippocampus and Spin Class
According to studies exercise, especially exercise of the aerobic variety like walking or running, has the potential to encourage the growth of brain cells within the hippocampus and other important areas of the brain. By creating more brain cells we have the potential to use our brain more efficiently, creatively and productively. It has also been discovered that exercise also increases the survival rate of these brain cells which is also highly beneficial to our thought processes, our memory and our imagination.
All of our ideas as writers come from our brain. Our experiences, what we read, what we see is all processed in a very complex network of neurons and synapses until they fall into our consciousness. By developing our brain and creating new cells we can make this process more efficient and in turn generate more ideas.
Mental Clarity and Mental Health
This birthing of new cells into the Hippocampus is not the only way that exercise affects us and our thought processes. Hundreds of studies have discovered that there is a link between mental health and exercise. Exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream which react with receptors in the brain, creating a euphoric feeling of well being and ease. Exercise also has an impact on serotonin levels which as we all know are vital for a positive state of mind. By looking after the body we look after the mind. Without clarity in our brains we can’t process emotions, thoughts and feelings in the same way, which is the root of a variety of mental illnesses and issues. We become inefficient and unable to organise our thoughts properly.
It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigour.Marcus Tullius Cicero
The Subconscious Mind…
Daily exercise is a task that requires very little mental energy other than willpower, the activity itself is purely physical. As we embark on a run or a workout our mind wanders seemingly by itself. I’ve had periods of time where incredible ideas seem to float around in my brain when I’m running. The clarity that exercise provides us with also allows our subconscious mind to wander freely. Our imagination has a work out all of its own, with no distractions, no Netflix, no social media. It’s just us and our body; a rare occurrence in a time where distractions seem to be everywhere.
What do you Think?
What exercise do you implement into your own lives? How do you find time and does it help with your creativity? Let me know down in the comments!