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Feeling stumped at work? Bored at home? Neuroscientists would encourage you to stand up and go for a walk. And for good reason - studies are finding that aerobic exercise is a key component in fully harnessing the power of creativity.
If you want to do one simple thing to get your creative juices flowing, know that exercise may be the answer. Physical activity can help you become more innovative, imaginative and have more original ideas.
A study published in Creativity Research Journal found that the majority of participants who engaged in 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise and then took the Torrence Tests of Creative Thinking saw gains in creative potential - proving that exercise has a positive impact on creative thinking.
Another study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that people who regularly engage in exercise performed better on tests of creativity than their more sedentary peers. That's because neuroscientists have discovered that exercise enhances neurogenesis - the birth of brand-new neurons in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus.
'There is exciting new evidence that one of the functions of the hippocampus is that it's not only important for long-term memory, but it's critical for the functions of imagination - a key component of creativity,” explains New York University neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki.
'For many, many years we thought that you never 'got new neurons” when you were an adult,” says Suzuki in a TED Talk. 'We believed that you were born with a certain amount of brain cells, but we recently found there are actually two brain structures where new neurons are being born - even as adults - and one of them is in the hippocampus. Exercise enhances the number of new brain cells born in the hippocampus and allows more of those brain cells to survive. When those brain cells survive, exercise also helps them develop even faster.”
To summarize: exercise has the ability to help your brain flourish. This groundbreaking research has reprioritized my reasons for wanting to exercise. In what areas of your life would you like to bolster more creativity?
Depending if you are more logical or creative, you may have been told that you are predominantly a left-brain or a right-brain thinker. 'One of the most fascinating things about creativity, and what recent studies are showing, is that it's not just only one side of the brain that is working. The most creative people are using both sides of the brain together,” Suzuki says. 'For creativity it actually makes more sense that you would benefit from having the most cross talk possible between all parts of your brain. In fact, that's exactly what the neuroscience is showing.”
If you are a student beginning school, an entrepreneur starting a business, a professional, or a stay-at-home mom, Suzuki believes that the best way for healthy people to stimulate the hippocampus and become more creative is to get up and get moving. In what ways could you, your spouse, your children or your employees benefit from your increased creativity?
' Kylie Alger is a certified wellness coach and co-owner of The Well-Woman: Body, Mind & Spirit. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org