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Need some brainpower? Get on your bike – exercise boosts creative thinking

Writer’s block? Board meeting brainpower running dry? Research in the Netherlands has found that exercise can boost your creative thinking

During the study, researchers tested two main types of creativity – divergent thinking (the ability to come up with multiple solutions to a problem) and convergent thinking (the ability to find the one correct solution). The people included in this trial were asked to name as many uses for a pen as possible (divergent thinking), and then were presented the words: time, hair and stretch, and were asked to find the common link.

Brain on Bicycle

Lorenza Colzato from Leiden University found that people who exercised outperformed those who didn’t, on both tasks. However, a sprint before a deadline may not be the way forward; people who reap the benefits are those who exercise on a regular basis. Colzato said ‘We think that physical movement is good for the ability to think flexibly, but only if the body is used to being active. Otherwise a large part of the energy intended for creative thinking goes to the movement itself.’

(And I wasn’t going to keep you hanging; the correct answer for the divergent thinking test is ‘Long’. Bonus points at home if you got that one right, if not, get yourself to the gym).

lydia headshotLydia Jones blogs at

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