Thursday, April 10, 2014

Need to Write? Head Outside.

In "Training Your Brain for Creativity," writer and fitness specialist James Fell passes along some wisdom that we can finally take advantage of now that one of the worst winters on record is finally coming to an end. A personal observation that his creativity improves while exercising outdoors--he says the bulk of his book was written while either on his bike or running--prompted Fell to talk with Ruth Ann Atchley, chair of the psychology department at the University of Kansas. 

"We've known for a long time that writers get benefit from being active out in nature," she explained. "The environment makes a big difference." And while it's long been established that aerobic exercise improves cognition, it's the combination of activity and the outdoors that's key: "Reading email and checking your phone takes you off task and inhibits creativity for as long as five minutes each time." In contrast, the "natural environment has the ability to seduce and attract your attention system rather than demand it." 

Exercise, outdoors or not, can also enhance your career. Fell cites neurologist Dr. Miguel Alonso-Alonso, who explained that a "fitter person is going to have greater improvements in executive function." Moreover, there may be a correlation between physical and financial health, with Fell reporting economist Vasilios Kosteas's finding that people who exercised at least three times each week increased their earnings: "I found that for men the average was a 6 percent increase on weekly earnings. For women it was more on the order of a 9 to 10 percent increase in weekly earnings," said Kosteas. 

To read the full article and in-depth explanations of the research, click here

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