The Entrepreneurial Survival Guide is a recurring series aimed at helping small-business owners create sustainable, productive, and healthy businesses and lives. Check out the posts on setting a schedule and morning routines.
For a long time, I told myself I didn’t have time to exercise. It took longer than I care to admit to realize that I also don’t have time to be unproductive. Now, I look at exercising as an investment in my future, rather than time “away.”
Of course, we understand that movement can improve our physical health. Additionally, as little as thirty minutes of exercise several times a week can have dramatic effects on our emotional health. As Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey says in this story for Psychology Today, “Working up a sweat could very well be one of the most potent, underused prescriptions we have.” As the same article states, moderate exercise three times a week has been proven to compete with anti-depressant medications when it comes to enhancing mood and staving off anxiety and depression. And couldn't we all use a little lift these days?
Exercise also has dramatic effects on creativity. I can personally attest to this. I'll work through writer's block on my morning runs. I'll sit and stew at my desk, unsure of how to solve a problem, go to a yoga class, and suddenly return with a solution—without even consciously thinking of one.
Scientific studies back up my personal experience. A 2014 Stanford study found that walking boosted creative output 60 percent. Neurologist Wendy A. Suzuki, observes, "Exercise could make students more imaginative at school and adults more creative at work." Those of us who use movement to spark creativity aren't alone. Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and Henry David Thoreau all spoke of the benefits of walking for their writing practices. Thoreau spoke of people who “understood the art of walking—who had a genius for sauntering.” Additionally, British researchers have found that exercise also increases our ability to shift and focus our attention, as well as improves memory. Overall, movement can help us become more creative, focused, and productive.
Walking isn't the only form of movement that's beneficial. Do what you can with where you are. You might opt for a moderate bike ride, an intense boot-camp-style workout in the park, or dancing around your kitchen. Keep in mind movement could also include a chair yoga session, guided meditation, or even eye-movements. Whatever you do, I hope you'll get moving to boost your creativity and overall health.