With the new year quickly approaching, many people are reflecting on their lives to find the best New Year’s resolution. While hitting the gym has always been a popular resolution, most people choose to workout more frequently for physical reasons.
What most don’t realize is that exercise is equally beneficial for your mental health as it is for your physical health.
Did you know that recent studies have been looking into a correlation between exercise and increased creativity? Obviously, creativity is a hard concept to measure, causing most of the studies to end before conclusive evidence has been discovered. However, many have found a lot of positive associations.
Take this study done at Stanford University. Researchers found that participants’ creativity while walking and shortly after were much higher than while sedentary. In some cases, the participants’ creativity levels even doubled!
One of the biggest surprises in that study was when they realized that creativity increased while walking regardless of the setting. You would expect to be increasingly creative when surrounded by beauty, but they discovered that walking on a treadmill facing a blank white wall was just as effective. Crazy, huh?
Another study found that regular exercise seems to be associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, two components of creativity. If you’re like us, you probably have no idea what those two terms mean, but think they sound pretty impressive. That’s because they are!
Divergent thinking is the practice of coming up with multiple solutions for one problem. This type of thinking occurs when more than one solution is correct. Convergent thinking refers to the ability to think of one correct solution for a problem.
In addition to improved creativity, regular exercise provides a laundry list of other mental benefits. Below, we’ve picked out the ones that really motivate us to strap on our running shoes.
- Reduces stress. Exercise reduces stress by increasing the chemical that moderates your brain’s response to stress.
- Increases happiness. Some refer to this as the runner’s high, but exercise boosts your happiness by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones in your brain.
- Prevents cognitive decline and sharpens memory. As people age, their memory often weakens. Exercising increases the chemicals in your brain that prevent degradation of the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memories and learning.
- Boosts brainpower. We can hardly believe this, but cardiovascular exercise can actually create new brain cells and increase overall brain performance.
Aren’t all of the mental benefits of exercise astounding? Even though the studies regarding creativity haven’t resulted in conclusive evidence, it’s enough to make us want to head to the gym. Hey, we’re in marketing so we have to keep our creative edge!