One of the most common and perennial of all New Year’s resolutions is to exercise more. Holiday overindulgence and time off can leave us feeling undisciplined and unwell. But did you know that, in addition to trimming your waistline, exercising can give you a creative boost?
While Archimedes found his best ideas in the bath, many Creatives extol the benefits of a clear mind and elevated heart rate. Exercise can affect brain chemistry, hormone levels and nerve growth to foster improved idea-generation. And, check out this quote from an article in Fast Company:
“For artists, entrepreneurs, and any other driven creators, exercise is a powerful tool in the quest to help transform the persistent uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that accompanies the quest to create from a source of suffering into something less toxic, then potentially even into fuel.”
I don’t know about you, but I definitely want all the help I can get transforming fear into fuel!
While you may have heard that primary care physicians face the task of getting American patients to move–any movement, for any duration–30 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for creative productivity. Less than 30 minutes, and you might miss out on cardiovascular gains (and increased oxygen to your awesome brain). Over 30 minutes? Uh, hello, deadlines? In an already full schedule, long blocks of exercise are the first to be cut.
Taking a walk (or jog, or run, if you’re able) is an easy way for most of us to fit in more activity. My dog’s enthusiasm will always win me over when I’m not feeling it. Also, you can bring your children along to give them your undivided attention and hear all about their school day. Sometimes, we’ll pull on our sneakers for family and pets even when we’d rather stay warm and toasty inside!
Think about how much time we spend hunched over a keyboard or desk. How’s your posture right now? Mine = not good. (My dog, Arty, is curled *on* my feet. I hate to wake him, so I’m teetering on one sit-bone at an awkward angle. Sigh.) Calming, stretching yoga will help realign and strengthen our work-worn bodies. And it always surprises me how good I feel after focusing on my breathing. We could all use a few deep breaths during the day.
(I recommend Yoga with Adrienne. When she finds a little fluff of dog hair and flicks it off her mat? So uplifting 🙂
I haven’t tried a standing desk, but these are becoming more and more popular. With the admonishment that “sitting is the new smoking”, experts encourage us to kick the chair. (But I love sitting! 🙁 ) For bloggers, writers and designers who spend a lot of time at the keyboard, there’s a platform available that will convert your existing desk to a standing one. Maybe try it in the afternoons? Regardless, at least commit to getting up and walking around every twenty-five minutes. Set the timer or a reminder on your phone.
The truth is, our schedules aren’t going to open up and offer us a nice, neat chunk of free time to exercise. If we want better fitness and quality of life, we have to be intentional and make time for it. While it feels like I don’t have time to exercise some days, I seem to always find time to scroll through social media, watch a hedgehog video, or hyper-focus on peeling a label off the jar before I toss it into the recycling bin. (Why..are..they..so..sticky?) We do what we want to do. Remember, instead of dreading the actual exercise, think of why we resolved to exercise: improved health, longer life, being able to say ‘yes’ to adventure. And heightened creativity!
NOW YOU: Have you noticed the benefits of exercise in your work?
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I taught group fitness for 12 years. Then when I “retired,” without the motivation of a paycheck, my workouts petered out. I took Zumba for years but when the location changed (and I experienced some hearing loss from the really loud music), that stopped too.
Recently, a friend and I decided to try a gym one mile from our respective houses. So far, so good. I like knowing a) I get to see my friend and b) I’m working to keep up my strength (and balance and flexibility).
I’m super excited that you’re saying it will also help me creatively:)