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At the Crossroads of Exercise and Art: Why Physical Activity Makes You More Creative - FAD Magazine

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At the Crossroads of Exercise and Art: Why Physical Activity Makes You More Creative

Photo: Pxhere

Creatives across the world have found inspiration in exercise. Not many know this, says  Linda Weber from FITFORBEACH, but Charles Dickens is said to have walked 12 miles a day, Ernest Hemingway was into boxing and Emily Dickinson was partial to 15 minutes of cardio every day around noon. 

“What we all know, however, is that physical well-being has an incredible effect on the mind. Exercise releases brain chemicals called endorphins that interact with the receptors in our brains to improve our focus, reduce anxiety and depression and boost our self-esteem,” Linda says.

While literary powerhouses seem to have sourced their inspiration in physical activity, what about visual artists? Surely, their oeuvre could also benefit from regular workouts.

One Stanford University study found that walking has a significant effect on some types of cognitive functions involved in creativity. This includes divergent thinking, or the ability to come up with open-ended ideas and convergent thinking, or problem-solving. 

As once expressed by the German artist Caspar David Friedrich art is often created in flow, a state that can be brought on by physical activity. The famous painter highlighted this point when he said:

“All authentic art is conceived at a sacred moment and nourished in a blessed hour; an inner impulse creates it, often without the artist being aware of it.”

So why are artists not well-known for their propensity for exercise? It could be to do with practicalities. After all, who wants to get up early in the morning after rounds of drinks at exhibition openings or other art-related social gatherings. The day-to-day pursuits of many artists can also be physically taxing, leaving little energy for the gym. Painters, for instance, spend most of their days on their feet while installation artists might be moving heavy materials. 

Regardless of the trends, some artists are forging their own paths and exercise is right there in the mix. The painter Nathlie Provosty has told the platform Artsy that jogging three times a week clears her mind. “When I’m still, the mind can race, but when I run, I can step out of the mind and watch the thoughts. Rather than being in the film, I can watch the film of my own thoughts. This … creates a relationship of sequence, and I can get very clear on ideas and possibilities.”

Dutch composer Guido van der Werve has told the same publication that he finds running, biking and swimming help him find his creative center.

“Many days I sit behind my piano trying to compose for a lot of different instruments at once. It’s quite difficult because music is time-based, so you can’t really sit down and look at it—it disappears. Going for a run makes me sharper, it helps me to stay focused, to concentrate, and also you create endorphins, which makes you feel better.”

There is little doubt that art and fitness mix. If you are not convinced, take a look at the FitArt app. Launched last year, the platform delivers fitness plans complemented by art shows. Plus, the exercises in the app have been created by artists for artists, meaning that they are relevant to both the lifestyles and mindsets of creatives.

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