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  • Writer's pictureJane Hansesgaard

Does Exercise Boost Creativity?

Yes, for me it does. Whether it is heading out for a run, going for a walk or taking part in an exercise class, it always does the trick for me. Giving my brain a bit of a ‘cognitive pause’ and getting my heart rate up, so that my body releases endorphins, the wonderful 'feel good hormones', it all contributes to ideas flowing freely again in my brain and I feel happy and relaxed. That’s a good starting point for a designer and it often means that when I return to my studio, I have resolved any problems that got me a bit stuck.

Running is great for my creativity

I’m lucky that I get to walk my daughter to school almost every day. It’s a great start to the day for me - and for my daughter; we get quality time together, fresh air and exercise all at the same time. It’s about an hour’s round trip and it sets me up for my working day.

I walk home by myself, listen to the birds, take in the views, pass the shop windows and subconsciously take in things that might inspire me and there you go; my mind is in a good place to start a design job when I return home to my studio.

Morning sky in Ilkley

I decided to research other people’s thoughts on whether exercise can boost creativity and here are some of my findings.

Exercise Can Help Your Brain Produce Creative Ideas Professor David Blanchette claims that getting just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise before work can expand our ability to problem solve and argues that even brief activity results in greater creative potential for up to two hours afterwards. According to Dr Rex Jung from the University of New Mexico, exercising your body can help your brain produce creative ideas. He observed that there is a distinct change in the frontal lobes of the brain when people are engaged in the creative process and says that you are more likely to come up with an original idea when there is less activity in the frontal lobes. Running or meditating can help trigger this temporary brain state, causing reduced activity in the frontal lobes which allows ideas to flow. Source:

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche included this seemingly exaggerated statement among the aphorisms he created for his book “Beyond Good and Evil,” where he examined the future of philosophy. And he is certainly not the only genius to associate walking with creative inspiration.

Nikola Tesla took long daily walks in a city park and claimed to have formed his ideas fully in his mind during these strolls before committing anything to paper. Steve Jobs insisted on “walking meetings” with business associates at Apple, especially when creative problem solving was required, something that Mark Zuckerberg and many others in Silicon Valley now emulate. Dozens of famous authors — Henry David Thoreau, L.M. Montgomery, J.K. Rowling, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few — have said that walking is the only reliable cure to writer’s block. So many writers have been avid walkers that Merlin Coverley wrote a 265-page book called “The Art of Wandering,” discussing how literary history has been shaped by bipedal adventures. Source:

I will keep walking, running and exercising and hopefully I have inspired you to do the same, if you're not already doing it.



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