How to Improve Creativity (Part 3): Running

running in the evening
-Photo by lgh75
The benefits of running are well-chronicled. Studies have shown that both habitual and one-time endurance activities can improve brain function. It makes us smarter. It clears our heads and helps us make decisions. It helps us do math problems better.

It also improves creative thinking, as supported by this study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Steinberg, et. al., Br J Sports Med 1997;31:240-245 doi:10.1136/bjsm.31.3.240).

The study looks at two aspects of physical exercise- improved mood and creative thinking. Does physical exercise improve our mood? And does it also improve creative thinking?

And if creative thinking is improved, is it a direct result of the exercise, or a result of the better mood?

According to the results, it turns out that physical exercise improves both mood and creativity independently of each other- so yes, one more reason to like (or try to like) exercising.

I can’t argue with these results. Since regularly beginning to run, I can say with assurance that I’ve got a clearer mind. Creative thinking is a tough thing to measure but a clear mind definitely improves my ability to think quick, make decisions and find solutions. These things all require creative ability in some capacity so there’s surely a connection here.

Even for those who choose to succumb themselves to the negative end of the mood spectrum for creative inspiration, running can still provide that necessary spark when it seems like all is lost and the idea well is all dried up.

Aerobic Exercise = Good Mood + Creativity. Works for me, hope it works for you!


  1. give no credence to any thought that was not born outdoors while . . . the muscles are not celebrating a feast, too.

    Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

  2. Nietzsche says it best!