10/16/2014 06:27 pm ET Updated Dec 16, 2014

Creativity in Motion


You're cruising down the highway, windows down, music blaring, when all of a sudden the brake lights from the car in front of you flicker on and you're suddenly face-to-face with miles of impending traffic. It's a terrible feeling. The feeling of being stuck. From the sudden traffic kind of stuck to the slow, years in the making "I hate my life" kind of stuck, that state of mind can be not only frustrating, but at times debilitating.

Whether it's a blank page, a blank canvas, a problem that seems impossible to solve or the inability to move on from a person or situation, often times the key to feeling unstuck lies in jumpstarting movement in our minds. In fact, we can begin to get out of our mental traffic by simply sparking our creativity and creating space for new thoughts. And this spark that can be ignited with physical fitness. Moving our bodies can help move our minds!

Some of the greatest minds in history made a practice of using physical movement to generate creative ideas. Charles Dickens was famous for his daily walks, which he called "thinking and dreaming time." He routinely walked ten, fifteen, twenty miles a day, observing the world and "finding his mind's direction." Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Kant, and Sarte all made a daily practice of morning walks to stimulate their mind. Albert Einstein said of the theory of relativity, "I thought of it while riding my bicycle." Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey are famous for holding walking meetings, getting tech gurus out from behind the computer and moving where productivity seems to happen faster.

In fact, just last year researchers at Stanford University studied the effects aerobic exercise had on creativity by having participants take a test utilizing the creative part of their brain just after completing a physical task. The group that exercised outperformed the control group nearly every time! The study concluded, "a person's creative input increases by an average of 60 percent after aerobic exercise." I love the idea that striving to get into tip-top physical shape can also push us into top creative shape. I've witnessed it, as it's not unusual for a person to walk into class looking lost and weighed down by a problem and then an hour later walk out sweaty but rejuvenated with a solution that hit them mid-workout.

That creative spark is crucial for all of us. Sure, painters and composers rely on daily inspiration in more blatant ways, but all of us find ourselves mentally stuck. Maybe it's a problem in a relationship you're having, or brainstorming ways to generate more income for your business, or simply thinking up ways to help someone in need, inevitably the solution relies on our creativity and our creativity relies on being active.

Physical and emotional weight are so connected that the problems and solutions are inextricably linked as well. Losing the weight of a heavy mental traffic jam lies in getting our bodies moving. So, let's get moving and discover what that creative spark will ignite!