Let’s Get Physical For Creativity
December 16, 2013

Let’s Get Physical For Creativity

Creativity is something many of us long for. We read the Creativity for Dummies books, try out all the new age activities, take class, join creative groups, and just engage in creative activities. Well, as it turns out, one of the best ways to up our creative juices is to get those juices flowing through exercise. That is right; redOrbit reporter Lee Rannals recently published an article that supports the idea that exercise boosts creativity.

The study conducted by researchers at Leiden University of the Netherlands shows that exercise promotes both divergent and convergent thinking. As redOrbit defines, “Divergent thinking means to think up as many solutions as possible for a certain problem, while convergent thinking leads to one single correct solution for a given problem.” So to test this, researchers had two groups of participants: one with people who exercised at least four times a week and one with those who did not regularly exercise. To figure out the impact of exercise on creativity, the researchers conducted the following study:

“Researchers asked participants to write down all the possible uses for a pen in a so-called “alternate uses test.” After this, the volunteers performed a “remote associates task,” in which they were presented with three non-related works and had to come up with the common link. The alternate uses test represented divergent thinking while the remote associates task showed an example of convergent thinking.”

What the researchers found was those who exercised regularly outperformed those who did not, especially on the remote associates task. Part of the reason, they explain, comes from the fact that those who exercise regularly have trained their bodies to be active thus have trained their bodies to have control. This bodily control then supports cognitive control.

So what does this mean? Well as cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato told The Telegraph, that famous classical idea of a sound mind lives in a healthy idea – yeah, that’s true.

Sometimes people need a litany of reasons to exercise. The mere health physical benefits are not enough (and even these are not just mere). Some need more reasons. Physical health, mental acuity, stress and weight management…these just are not enough. Well, to add to this reason buffet, how about a little creativity? Yep, if health in all its incarnations is not enough, then perhaps creativity will be.

Want to write that great American novel? Start jogging. Looking to create that masterpiece to upstage Picasso? Play a sport? Want to take evocative pictures? Swim at the ‘Y’ more regularly? Interested in some other art form? Get to moving more regularly.

It seems silly not to exercise when all of these benefits lay themselves out for us. One at a time we can knock out some of our goals, dreams, wishes. We can build up our strength, improve our hearts, de-stress, lose weight, and, oh, create something incredible. I don’t know why people would not want to engage in some exercise.

For me, creativity and exercise are musts in my life for a variety of reasons, but to learn that they support each other further inspires me to keep working on both of these. I love to exercise already, but redOrbit has given me even more reason to jump to it.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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