Why sit down and bleed in front of the keyboard? With today’s knowledge about how the brain functions, there is no need to suffer from writer’s block anymore. Stretching your creative muscle can be naturally easy.
By Robert Gerlach, creativity researcher, IQudo sport of ideas.
According to the IQudo ideation survey 2015 the number one reason for finding ideas, mentioned by 31% of respondents, are movement activities, like running, bicycling, and walking.
Whenever I feel stuck, I go for a meditative run. I always return home with a bucket full of ideas, feeling peaceful inside and nourished from within. Actually, I don’t call it running. It’s just another working mode. No matter where I am, and what I am doing the brain is running anyhow. All I am responsible for is making sure that it’s running well.
Running accelerates creative thinking
Scientific studies have proven the physical and psychological benefits of movement and creativity. Thilo Koch, a student at the KIT-EnTechnon (Germany) compiled the latest studies on the effect of creativity and physical activity in his thesis, Physical exercise and its influence on creative thinking. (“Körperliche Aktivität und ihr Einfluss auf kreatives Denken.” Koch 2012). The analysis of the studies shows that both single-movement units, as well as long-term training programs, favor creative thinking. Following are three key findings of the thesis I mentored:
- The formation of new nerve cells is facilitated, which fosters the plasticity, interconnectedness, and adaptability of the brain.
- The increase of the neurotransmitter BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) encourages the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses.
- Higher levels of hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine start floating through the brain.
How to run into ideas
For Beginners. How often do you jettison your pledge to exercise? And, how often do you complain about being stressed on the job? Here is the chance to hit both problems at the same time. Just go for a walk for at least 30 minutes. It will release stress and markedly spur creative thinking. One study* showed that walking increased 81% of participants’ resourcefulness. Creative thinking is even increased when you sit down after the walk. Now, isn’t that a promising reason to be on your feet?
For Pros. To strike ideas, it’s better to not set goals and rack up the miles. Instead, go for a meditative run. Hormones that foster creative thinking like dopamine and serotonin are more elevated by low to moderate exercise than with intense exercise. The crossing of the finish are inspirations, that pop up on the way!
For Yogis. Often I get asked, “Does Yoga open up the free flow of ideas, too?” It depends. The keyword about exercise and creativity is “half-automatic.” If your mind is busy with executing the asanas correctly, you most probably won’t get into the idea-flow. But, if you have the poses down pat, you’ll get inspired on the mat.
(1) Multiple answers possible. (2) dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036577