The Creative Spark—Fitness Makes you Creative

Fitness might not make you Michelangelo, but it makes you more creative than Jim Carrey’s graffiti porn.  Sheesh!  The guy needs a lifetime pass to Curves.

In high school, I took art.  Once, a guest instructor taught me and my two friends pottery.  We acted up, laughing as our clay slapped onto the floor from the whirling table.  We howled until the instructor started crying.  Feeling bad, we inquired about advanced techniques, soothing the instructor.  By the end of the class, I made a mug with a big-nosed face that resembled my friend.  My mug got showcased for all students to see.

But most young people bubble with creative energy, don’t they?  After age twenty-one, that energy starts to droop.

For instance, during high school, I avidly painted.  My brother bought me paints and canvases.  He furnished me with a room where I painted nonstop.  But by age twenty-one, I stopped.  Not long after, my singing and song-writing stalled.  By the time I finished my undergrad, most of my creative spells had shriveled.  Cooped up with textbooks, I had energy for studies, but little else.

But during grad studies, I hit the gym hard.  With newfound pep, I dabbled into everything artistic.  I crafted creative performances, took singing lessons, starred in a documentary film, and danced on an academic stage.  Fitness fueled me for creative extracurriculars.

But it’s not just me.  Studies show that whoever gets fit grows more creative.   Anders Hansen reveals research on the link between creativity and fitness in his book The Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain by Moving Your Body:

  • Researchers know that creativity grows from fitness: “We have scientific proof that physical activity boosts creativity” (location 2058, 59%).
  • Fitness makes you a master at brainstorming: “Physical activity seems to boost idea generation …” (location 2058, 59%).
  • Just ask fit authors how exercise sparks their creativity: “There is a slew of authors, musicians, actors, artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs who have borne witness to how they use exercise to become more creative” (location 2014 of 3512, 57%).
  • But do your art after you train: “Improved creativity expresses itself mainly after exercise” (location 2080, 59%).
  • Sorry to say, but if you lack fitness, a single bout of exercise won’t boost your creativity. So exercise steadily to gain a fit person’s edge: “Fit people actually perform better on creativity tests if they are done in tandem with physical exercise.  Creativity does not seem to improve at all in people who are not fit” (location 2091-2103, 60%).
  • But first, consider the two types of creative thinking: “divergent and convergent thinking” (location 2035, 58%).
  • What is divergent thinking? “Brainstorming: coming up with many different solutions to a problem by thinking broadly and using plenty of associations” (location 2035, 58%).
  • What is convergent thinking? “Not … brainstorming a variety of solutions, but … quickly arriving at one answer—the correct one …” (location 2046, 58%).
  • Fitness aids not only creative thinking, but also benefits creative stamina: “Exercise isn’t just beneficial for divergent and convergent thinking; it also helps to give us the energy to keep plugging away with ideas” (location 2125, 60%).

I read a study showing that quantity, not quality, leads to greater creativity.  So, put up your hand in class or post on the Landing—nonstop.

And dance or lift weights to draw beauty, not draw porn.  After all, Jim Carrey lacks the biceps required to paint Stormy Daniels’ fun-bags.