What does exercise have to do with creativity and happiness? Where does nature fit in? Research suggests that exercise lifts mood. Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey says, “Working up a sweat could very well be one of the most potent, underused prescriptions we have.” Movement – at least three times per week for thirty minutes triggers mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. Studies have shown that it can compete with antidepressants. Other research has shown that nature (as opposed to concrete) elicits imaginative, fulfilling play in children. Combining nature and movement enhances your chances for creative thoughts and happy moments.
Whether you choose a dirt path or an elliptical with an outdoor view, movement bolsters creativity as well as contentment. Gail McMeekin, author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women found that one secret was exercise. Spontaneous, undirected thinking is creative and occurs more readily when you move. Separated from the to-dos on your desk, and striding through a natural setting allows meaningful subjects to arise in your mind. Deeper feelings, novel ideas, sought after solutions or “aha” moments (a term psychologist Dr. Mark Jung Beeman uses for a flash of insight) can pop up on a walk. Time to reflect as you amble can make a big difference in your wellbeing. Many great writers walked their books. Thoreau spoke of people who “understood the art of Walking –who had a genius for sauntering.”