Productivity

Brain vs. brawn? Hitting the gym increases creativity

Steve Lopez
Culture Journalist

Steve Lopez is an experienced writer in culture, social issues and fashion

Steve Lopez
Culture Journalist

Steve Lopez is an experienced writer in culture, social issues and fashion

Whether you run a small graphic design firm, restaurant or construction business, one thing is for sure – creativity is a valuable trait. And getting fit could help you harness it.

Man running up stairs

The research

A 2014 Stanford University study found that exercise improves cognitive function and generation of new ideas, compared against those who sit.

Some participants were required to walk on a treadmill against a blank wall, while others took a walk outside. Others undertook seating sessions inside on chairs or were wheeled in wheelchairs.

The participants then took a creativity test relying on divergent thinking (a method used to create ideas by exploring many possible solutions). All of those that took part in physical exercise were able to generate one high quality idea, compared to just 50 per cent of those seated. Getting fit for work seems like a smart investment doesn’t it?

The Stanford University study builds on a 2005 Creativity Research Journal  paper showing that exercise positively impacts creative potential immediately after activity, and that this may extend for some period of time. 

Healthy results

AFL and NRL Fitness Coach Christian Marchegiani explains that when he owned his first gym, he had admin and membership staff that didn’t engage in physical activity. After he introduced a culture of getting staff involved with the classes with members and keeping fit, the increased workplace performance was outstanding.

The high energy and productivity by staff allowed Christian to pass the reigns while he appeared on the Channel Nine weight loss show Excess Baggage.

“Exercise is about more than just having a fit body. It’s about having a healthy mind. A strong body is an efficient body that creates a strong mind in the workplace, and gives you greater clarity when under stress,” says Christian.

Christian’s tips for work fitness
  1. Exercise before work. You will start the day energetic and with your creative juices flowing. No matter what happens throughout the day, you know that you have exercised so you won’t be beating yourself up or getting distracted for missing a session
  2. Get your team involved. Bootcamps for staff, or participating in sports can help build team morale and promote cohesion, as well as the benefits to productivity
  3. Encourage staff to leave their desk at lunch. Encourage your team to get out of the office and go for a walk. Whether it’s a run around the park or walk to a café, fit employees are happy and productive employees
  4. Be realistic. Start with only two to three days per week. This is manageable and it won’t put so much pressure on you to exercise. Schedule these sessions into your diary as you would a meeting or catch up with friends
  5. Monitor your progress.  It’s important to keep track of where you have been and where you’re going with your fitness goals. With the rise of technology you can do this with apps or smartphones, such as the Samsung S Health app on the Samsung Galaxy S6
It's the smartphone for the health-obsessed and the worker on the go.

Learn more about the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Find out more

There are many tips, tricks and non-negotiables for a successful speech.
Success Stories
Success Stories
The tips, tricks and non-negotiables of winning speeches

Business leaders give great speeches, and the Telstra Business Awards finalists are no exception thanks to the tips, tricks and non-negotiables they are taught during the progr...

Speaker at 2017 Telstra Business Awards
Success Stories
Success Stories
Six steps to spectacular speeches

Public speaking is commonly quoted as one of the world’s most common fears, but it's a skill business leaders must master to be influential at networking events, workshops and ...

Why you need a comprehensive business plan
Success Stories
Success Stories
Why you need a comprehensive business plan

As the Telstra Business Awards judges consider what sets this year’s finalists apart, there is one standout factor they will inevitably have in common: clear vision. Great smal...

Keep your customers coming back for more by building loyalty.
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
5 simple ways to earn your customers' loyalty online

Do you know what experience your customers want online to keep them loyal? Keep them coming back with these 5 simple, effective strategies. 1. Put your customer first  Accordin...