Running need not be a competition. Unless that is, you do it for a living or for serious sport. It's a pastime like any other - it just involves using your legs a bit more. If anything, running is a practice, and one that is equally a workout for the body as it is for the mind.

Jogging, specifically, is about taking the long view. It's a total departure in which you discover your own rhythm. Some runners call it productive meditation. But, there's another benefit: quickly putting one foot in front of the other also gets your creative engine revved up. So next time you need to get unstuck, here are three darn good reasons to lace up.

Consistency

Habits are hard to form; they need a cue and a reward. When you make running a routine, whether once a week or everyday, you are training your brain. Think of it as conditioning, whereby the regularity creates a habit for mind-wandering. Prepping your brain this way can also echo into other aspects of your life.

Multipliers

I run with my pal Steve. We run 9km, and the time passes much faster given the amount of talking I do. In addition to the physical benefits of the run, I get breezy banter with a good friend. It kills two birds with one stone. Of course, exercising buddies are not novel, but another person is not required to employ the multiplier. For example, running and writing are natural bedfellows. Many a script or chapter were planned during a run, including this article. And with platforms like GoodGym you can help others by getting your fix; stop to plant trees in a local park, sort cans for a food bank, or help out a community project.

Pounding

If you're still failing to find creative flow, banging your head against the wall isn't going to help. By hitting the pavement, and taking in some fresh air (treadmills be damned) - you get your endorphins and dopamine pumping. Beyond these natural drugs or the physical exercise, there are also unexpected side benefits. Running helps stimulate neurogenesis - generating more neurons in our hippocampus. This provides you with stronger cognitive flexibility; raising both your mental ability to switch between thinking about two different things and thinking about many different things at the same time. When your hamstrings fire so do your neurons, goading you towards that next breakthrough.

But don't just rely on me. Ask Malcolm Gladwell, Jack Dorsey, or Haruki Murakami - or the plethora of runners who have discovered the uncanny ability to open the flood gates of creativity.

Published on: Sep 15, 2017
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