The Surprising Way Exercise Is Good for You

Whether or not we're able to make the time for it, we all know that exercise is good for us. There's no getting around how essential working out is to our well-being, from strengthening our heart and muscles to reducing our risk for a number of diseases. In addition to its obvious physical benefits, though, exercise can improve your health in other surprising ways.

One aspect we don't often consider when it comes to breaking a sweat is how it affects our brains. More and more attention is given to the mental outcomes of exercise, and we now recognize that staying active can help reduce stress and boost productivity. Exercise positively impacts your brain, encouraging cerebral blood flow and even helping to maintain memory function. Recent findings are revealing there may be more of these mental advantages than previously thought.

Wendy Suzuki, neuroscientist and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, asserts that there seems to be evidence that exercise makes us more creative. The same exercise-induced changes in the brain responsible for improving memory might improve the imagination, as well. Regular exercise could help to strengthen not only your muscles but also the parts of the brain that function during creativity. If you think about it, you may already practice certain related behaviors to encourage your own creativity. Have you ever gone on a walk when you hit a wall with work? Have some of your best ideas come to you while you were on a run or doing some other cardio activity? Suzuki says that when exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus—which helps with long-term memory—the workout can also invigorate the ability to imagine new situations, essential to creativity.

Are there any activities you do to encourage your own creativity? Share your tips with us in the comments.