You may have heard that there’s a relationship between physical exercise and creativity, and most of us assume it has to do with oxygen. Basically, taking a walk forces you to breathe more, which pushes more oxygen to your brain, which helps you think. As it turns out, there’s much more to it than that.
According to Scientific American, we think better while walking because, “the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for learning and memory, is highly active during exercise.” So it’s just up there generating new ideas of all kinds, thanks to a little sweat equity on your part. The surprising thing, however, is why this part of your brain is going nuts all of a sudden.
You might have heard that there’s a correlation between exercising and avoiding memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. This has led to some amazing studies and new information about the entire connection to physical activity and brain activity.
According to Dr. Karen Postal, “when we exercise, new brain cells are born in the hippocampus – the brain’s gateway to new memories.” That’s right, you’re not just thinking better when you get your blood flowing; you’re actually regenerating your brain. For those who succumbed to bad habits in their younger years, this comes as some very welcome news indeed.
So there you are, shimmying on down the road or maybe on your treadmill, and while you’re at it your brain decides you must need some new brain cells to go along with the new muscle tissue you’re building. Yes! New brain cells mean new capacity to improve your mind, your processes, and absorb all kinds of new information. It’s as if you signed up to receive a new internal hard drive. That, my friends, is incredibly awesome news in this age where your brain power directly correlates to your earning power.
So now we’re activating and rebuilding the old hippocampus, improving our brain capacity; but how is that contributing to our creativity? Dr. Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, tells us that while you take breaks from work to exercise, “your mind frees up to cross-fertilize so that when you return to intellectual pursuits, you’re far better at connecting ideas that at first glance don’t seem to be obvious or even related.”
So when you hit that brick wall before lunch and you just have to get away from your desk and the stupid report that isn’t making the least bit of sense, take the stairs to get to the cafeteria or your car. Work yourself up a little and don’t think about anything. Just listen to your steps and let everything fade away. That’s right – a key part of this is to let go and breathe.
While you eat your lunch, take some time to watch some feel-good cat videos online. No harm adding some healing laughter endorphins to your break. Other body-regenerating positives are hugs, a kiss from your partner, genuine tears, or anything that fills you with real feeling. Have you ever heard about the guy with cancer who laughed himself into remission? In the same way, watching a series of silly videos that make you smile or cry or feel emotional meets the criteria for the healing your body. That’s right – your Facebook feed is actually good for you, as long as you focus on the funny and leave the drama alone.
Once you’re finished with lunch, take the stairs again and Voila! According to Dr. Sawyer, that incomprehensible report will start making sense. The story you couldn’t write begins to write itself. The PowerPoint that looked ugly and lopsided comes together like a thing of beauty.
So often, we think we have no choices in life and that there’s nothing we can do to improve our situation. Well now you know different. Own your life, own your reactions to the things that happen around you, and own your health. Best of all, own your brain and put it to work for your betterment. That’s the power of the mind.