Creativity and Exercise

Updated on August 6, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about sleep and mental health-related topics as well as ways to prevent stress and to relax.

If you are the creative type like me, you have without a doubt experienced moments where the influx of imagination seems to drip instead of flow freely. Over the years when this has occurred to me, the frustration could seem overwhelming, especially when I was on schedule to complete a personally significant project.

For a long time I tried a myriad amount of different approaches that ranged from the holistic to the more esoteric. The one constantly evident means of increasing my creativity though was something that is actually quite simple; yet it provides powerful results. That answer is exercise.

Creativity and Exercise

Creativity and exercise seems to work in tandem to produce an often startling influx of imaginative thinking, forward motion, and clarity of mind. Creative ideas tend to disburse themselves on a much more frequent basis after I’ve finished a run, took a trip to the gym or went hiking for a while. Because of the obvious results, I delved into a bit of research to back up my claims. I was thrilled to find that research has verifiable evidence to support my findings.

One study by Dr. Hannah Steinberg proved that exercise enhanced memory independent of mood1. This significant study shows that even if an individual sometimes lacks the proper mental positivity for their creative endeavors, exercise can still assist them in achieving creative insight. Creativity and exercise, from this view, seem to work in unison, but why?

Better Intellectual Pursuits

From what Dr. Keith Sawyer says, it’s because physical activity gets your mind into the bodily experience, so that subconscious connections can pop up. His studies have proven that creativity and exercise seem to “cross-fertilize”, resulting in better creative and intellectual pursuits once you return to your work.

Also, given that studies have proven that creative ideas are more provoked by exercise, most anyone can commit to a proper regimen necessary to keep them in a proper fertile creative state.

More Focus on the Job

Given that I myself do have to be creative at my coding job, I’ve learned to go on a run in the morning before committing to my work. Ever since the establishment of this routine my blocks in creativity have ceased tremendously and my focus has increased. In actuality, I can’t recall the last time where I’ve had a full case of “coding block” due to the therapeutic and mind clarifying benefits of exercise.

Now, even when I commit to my more technical work in software design, I’m much less prone to zoning out as well; focusing on my task with a purpose and lucidity that wasn’t as easy to muster prior to my new regimen.

Fit Your Exercise to Your Needs

If you’re a creative artist, e.g., painter, writer, designer, etc. I wholeheartedly suggest that you commit to a palatable exercise regime that is suitable to your needs. Creativity and exercise have proven to be a perfect combination that makes a significant impact in your progress.

Health Magazine states that you should obligate yourself to at least 30 minutes of exercise before starting work3. When you discover a routine that fits your personality, the next step is to implement it as part of your lifestyle and not as a short-term enterprise.


Once your body grows accustomed to your new routine and your brain experiences the beneficial rewards, you will without a doubt experience an increased focus on creativity. Also, as an additional advantage, you will experience a more established physical health. With so many benefits coming from one simple lifestyle addition, it’s pretty obvious why the choice should be easy to make.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Sam Shepards


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