Ever notice when you are deep into a workout, whether running, cycling, or pushing past that urge to quit in a HIIT session, and you get a rush of ideas or the solution to a problem that’s been eluding you for weeks is suddenly unlocked? While this flow of thoughts takes you by surprise, the science around it shouldn’t – it seems that exercise stimulates the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for learning and creativity. Read on to find out how to use your fitness routine to harness your creative energy.
Get the Brain & the Body to Sync
It’s important to structure your workout so that the brain and body work together. To do this, start with your warm-up. Include small movements that require your visual and physical focus, like single-leg work, arm circles that vary in size and movement from one side to the other, and toe touches that are slow and deep. From there, move on to dynamic exercises that combine breathing and stabilization. Core work is an option, and holding plank while alternating between lifting the opposite hand and leg is a great example of this.
Once you’re warmed up, do something that elevates your heart rate. This means the intensity should be high and you should push yourself enough to feel at the upper limit of your efforts. Here, you might feel the confidence of a strong body as well as the absence of any other thought. Think of it as the keen focus on what you are doing physically has given your cerebral brain a break. You’ll feel invigorated, and this sets the stage for creative thoughts and ideas to flow.
Time Your Workouts to the Task
Lastly, time your workouts. If your need for new ideas usually lands midday, consider morning workouts to be your go-to for inspiration. One rule of thumb is to work out within three hours before the time you need that creative energy to work for you. Of course, if ideas come to you while you’re exercising or right after your sweat session, always have a pen and paper on hand or your phone nearby to record your thoughts and ideas as they come to you.
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