RUNNING HELPS CREATIVITY
Think back to a time when you came up with a creative idea. It might seem like it popped into your mind, fully formed — or dropped into your brain while you were doing something totally unrelated, like taking a shower or going for a run.
Runners in particular often cite the mind-clearing, meditative aspect of hitting the pavement as one of the reasons why they love to run. And in fact, some research does indicate a link between exercise and creative thought: One 2014 Stanford University study found that participants experienced a creative boost after walking on treadmills. Research also supports a larger connection between exercise and brain health, since physical activity can lead to neurogenesis— the creation of new neurons in the part of the brain linked to learning and memory. Exercise has also been linked to other mental benefits like increased neuroplasticity and greater ability to learn, as well as better task-switching ability and improved focus.
"DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE BRAIN START TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER THAT AMPLIFY PATTERN RECOGNITION, CREATIVITY, AND LEARNING AND MOTIVATION."
But how exactly does running impact the creative process? Dr. Michael Mannino, Chief Science Officer at Flow Research Collective, suggests that getting into flow — a state of intense concentration that occurs during an activity that is just challenging enough for your level of skill — could also help you harness creativity. Though finding flow is possible in almost any activity, Mannino says it’s particularly common in tasks that are autotelic, or intrinsically rewarding. In other words, you’re more likely to feel flow when you’re doing something you love, like going for a long run through the park, than something you have to do, like washing the dishes. Because running also taps into several other triggers for flow — including deep embodiment, clear feedback, concentration on a task, and novelty — Mannino says it’s a prime example of an activity that allows you to find flow.