Looking for inspiration for that next big idea or blog post? Look no further than out your front door. Just can boost creativity for hours. So fire up your favorite Pandora station, lace up your running shoes, and go! Here's why exercise, specifically running, inspires creativity:
1. No Technology
Don't let anything interrupt your stream of consciousness while on a run. Sure, you can run with a phone for safety (only emergency calls), and to listen to music. But Twitter and email can wait. Running allows high-level, subconscious thoughts to permeate the mind. Put the endless To Do's and meetings on the back burner. A relaxed mind leads to creative insights. Enjoy checking out for a bit.
2. Improved Mood
After reading Newsweek's “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?” it's easy to see a link between being away from technology and an improved mood. Whether it's the running itself, or the ability to abandon technology during runs, it really doesn't matter. If the overall effect after a run is an improved mood, isn't that reason enough to jet out the door?
3. Connect with Nature
Don't check out and get disgruntled about “missing out” on something important during a run. The likelihood of anything important happening during such a small time frame is slim to none. So, actually enjoy the process of clearing your mind. Run through a nature park, a beach, or up a mountain. Take notice of smells, sounds, and sights that you don't get to nurture during the other hours of the day. If you find that you still need stimulation other than nature, download a podcast or listen to music while on your run.
4. High-Level Thinking
It sounds like a contradiction, but allowing our thoughts to wonder is the best way to achieve high-level thinking. That's why some of our best ideas happen in the shower, or doing menial chores. And why brainstorming meetings are a bad idea. Richard Wiseman, author of “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” writes:
âOver 50 years of research shows that people often reach irrational decisions in groupsâ¦and highly biased assessments of the situationâ¦strong willed people who lead group discussions can pressurize others into conforming, self-censorship and create an illusion of unanimity.â
Groupthink, which frequently occurs during brainstorming meetings, is a dark side to social media, and hinders new ideas. Running lets us spend time alone – the best atmosphere for high-level thoughts to develop.
5. Tune out the critics
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Picasso
Remember how recess brought us so much joy in elementary school? Setting time aside “to play” is just as crucial as adults as it is for children. Running is the adult equivalent to recess. Children are creative, and lose their creative spark as they get old and start taking the words of society and critics to heart.
I'll never forget how I felt when my second grade teacher told me that my creative story sucked. Yes, this was second grade. And I was crushed. It took years before I could write again, free from the voice of critics. Running helps to tune out the critics, keep you motivated, and focus on what makes you come alive.
post-marathon runner's high
Now, what to do with all of that creativity? Use it to inspire technologyÂ and create the next big thing.
Want to learn more about how creativity works? I highly recommend Jonah Lehrer's “Imagine: How Creativity Works.”
Do you find running or other exercise inspires creativity for your business? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.