Gaining a creative edge is vital to staying on top of an incredibly competitive industry. It can become an unhealthy obsession. Contrarily, one of the best ways to stay in the hunt is in the healthiest of ways: commuting by running or cycling. With a little pre-planning, some sweat and, hopefully, a shower, you can greatly improve your cognitive output with the time you are already losing in your car.
Don’t take our word for it. A study from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that those who exercised four times a week were able to think more creatively than those with more sedentary lifestyles. Researchers noted that regular exercise seems to be associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, which are considered the two components of creative thinking; the former involves thinking of multiple solutions for one problem while the latter involves thinking of one solution for a problem. That sounds awfully similar to the thinking required to successfully execute on a creative brief.
Here are seven reasons to get you fired up enough to dust off your Huffy or Nikes and get your body and mind moving:
1. Time to think.
You don’t need a scientific study to know there are 24 hours in a day. In a traditional eight-hour workday, a creative director might have half if not all of those hours gobbled up by meetings. Since agency talent might (gasp) sleep and (double gasp) have a life outside the office, commuting is a sneaky time management solution to feel better about your health and ideas. Cycling or running just 30 minutes to and from the office carves out an hour of uninterrupted thought. Add in some proper stretching and you have nearly two hours to inch yourself closer to Cannes.
2. Get unstuck.
In their Ten rules for writing fiction, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle and Helen Dunmore all recommend getting the hell away from your desk to step out of your problem long enough – even if it’s a little painful – to find its solution. According to these tips, it appears one of the best ways to quit spinning your wheels is to actually spin your (bike) wheels. Not only does running and cycling momentarily occupy your mind with a new mental task, it also serves as a deliberate removal from the environment that may be stunting your thoughts.
3. Your work will age better.
One of the greatest fears is getting too old for advertising. Many seasoned creatives have forgotten more than their greener colleagues know. While that can be a benefit initially, it spells trouble over time. The good news is it appears the wear of time can be wiped clean with a little sweat. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, the brain area responsible for verbal memory and learning. Staying sharp and learning new things is the key to a long career in advertising. So, if you aren’t ready to move on, get moving and stay humble, but keep a big head.
4. Learn something new.
If movement alone isn’t enough to get your mind feeling Gillette-Fusion-sharp, (Five! Five blades!) bring your earbuds along for the ride. Not only is riding and running a great time to think, it’s a brilliant time to listen. Podcasts can teach you anything from copy to code. Knowing that many agencies have the expectation that ongoing professional development is part of being, well, professional, you should have all the motivation you need to switch gears.