By Shae Geary, Senior Communications Strategist
I went for a run today. This is not out of the ordinary, but it had been a while since my last run. As I settled into my road rhythm, my mind began to whirl and I had one of those Oprah “a-ha” moments. Having been away from the activity for a period of time, I had forgotten how much running was vital to my job.
Yes, you read right. More than just a cardio boost, running has always been an essential part of my professional toolbox. It just took time away to realize how much. While my endorphins were flying high, I was equally excited about the creative juices that had started to flow. I finished my run with a great mental outline for a press release I needed to write, as well as a fun new idea for a program a client partner has been trying to get off the ground.
As many of us are continuing to tackle health resolutions for the new year, this serves as a good reminder that the benefits of exercise often spill over into our professional lives, making us more productive, happier and, as in my case, creating the ideal time and space for brainstorming. I find that running is especially conducive to creative inspiration because the activity itself doesn’t require a ton of thought or even strategy (unless you are training with time intervals, but that’s a whole different kind of running!) As muscle memory kicks in and heart rate peaks, so does your brainpower.
Scientific research seems to concur with my experience. According to this recent blog post by Eric Barker, researchers at University of Pennsylvania found that movement is in fact a secret to being more creative. If you’re not a runner, even the simple act of walking can help solve problems and provide a new perspective.
While the dream of showing up to the office in spandex and running shoes is probably far off, it’s exciting to know that stepping away from your desk for a run or walk is becoming part of the corporate culture for some companies. I loved reading about Facebook’s new headquarters, which include a nine-acre rooftop garden complete with walking paths so that employees can get outside and even hold walking/running meetings.
In short, the next time you’re looking for your a-ha moment, try plugging in your headphones, tying up your shoes and hitting the road. At best, you’ll return to your desk flowing with ideas. At worst, you’ll be reinvigorated to finish off the day. To me, that’s a win-win.