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Thumbs up Study: "Exercise affects creativity"
by Narkissos 12-22-2009, 12:39 PM

Aerobic Exercise and Creative Potential:
Immediate and Residual Effects



ABSTRACT

The potential effects of aerobic exercise on creative potential were explored both immediately following moderate aerobic exercise and after a two hour lag. Sixty college students participated in an experiment consisting of three regimens varying the time when a Torrance Test of Creative Thinking was taken in relation to exercise completion. The results supported the hypotheses that creative potential will be greater upon completion of moderate aerobic exercise than when not preceded by exercise (immediate effects), that creative potential will be greater following a two hour lag time following exercise than when not preceded by exercise (residual effects), and that creative potential will not be significantly different immediately following exercise than after a two hour lag time following exercise (enduring residual effects). Limitations and implications for future research were discussed.

INTRODUCTION
The positive impact of aerobic exercise on physiological functions, particularly cardio-pulmonary processes and structures, has been extensively studied and validated. Yet only recently has the potential benefit of aerobic exercise on mental processes and structures been addressed. One potential benefit of aerobic exercise that has received particularly little attention is that of its potential effects on creativity.


Some recent research on creativity has investigated factors that may be influential in facilitating creativity, such as physical environment (McCoy & Evans, 2002), curiosity (Kashdan & Fincham, 2002), television (e.g., Valkenburg & van der Voort, 1994), relaxation (Khasky & Smith, 1999), and reward (e.g., Eisenberger & Rhoades, 2001). Contextual determinants of creativity in organizations that have been studied include work environment (Stokols, Clitheroe, & Zmuidzinas, 2002), goals (Shalley, 1991), rewards (e.g., Hennessey & Amabile, 1998), and deadlines (Amabile, Hadley, & Kramer, 2002). Much of this work has investigated influences on motivation to engage in creative organizational behavior. Some studies have addressed affect, such as mood’s effect on creativity (e.g., George & Zhou, 2002). However, very little work has investigated physiological factors that may influence creative potential. To add to this scant literature, this study investigates aerobic exercise’s impact on creative potential.

EXERCISE AND COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING

The relationship between exercise and the physical processes of the human body is relatively well understood. The benefits of physical exercise and the subsequent enhancement of physical task performance is a familiar concept. What remains less clear, however, is the existence of a relationship between aerobic exercise and aspects of cognitive functioning, more specifically, creativity.


Clarke (1958) reviewed seven studies and found that all the results supported hypotheses of exercise’s enhancement of cognitive functioning. Tomporowski and Ellis (1986) reviewed 27 studies and concluded that general exercise produces short-term facilitative effects on cognitive tasks, but that the results of the studies are conflicting and equivocal. Etnier et al.’s 1997 review of nearly 200 studies and reviews also noted a general consensus of mixed results. The authors’ meta-analysis concluded that exercise has a small positive effect on cognition, and that individual instances of exercise are unlikely to be very influential, whereas long-term exercise programs producing fitness gains are more likely to impact cognitive functioning.


As suggested by many of the studies and reviews, the historical work on the relationship between exercise and cognitive functioning has yielded conflicting results, which may at least partially be accounted for by the broad spectrum of factors being addressed in these studies. The broad term of cognitive functioning incorporates a range of concepts under its umbrella, and the operationalization of constructs employed has varied widely in these works. For example, the construct of “exercise” varies by duration, type, and intensity. Exercise has been operationalized as “acute bouts,” or single instances of physical activity-based arousal, or fitness, a product of long-term exercise. Different types of aerobic exercise (e.g., jogging and dancing), and anaerobic exercise (e.g., weight lifting and isometrics), have been tested, and fitness has been characterized by several different measures. The intensity of an individual instance of exercise has varied from a few seconds to the point of exhaustion, and further there has been little consistency or definition regarding the level of arousal the exercise produces in the subjects. As for dependent variables, a wide range of cognitive functioning measures have been utilized, such as arithmetic function performance, reaction time, intelligence tests and surrogates for intelligence (e.g., academic performance), memory tests, and many others. It is unlikely that all forms of cognitive functioning are alike, and therefore different effects on cognitive functioning are possible.

EXERCISE AND CREATIVITY

Creativity is a much sought after and encouraged thought process. (Sutton, 2001) Creativity is informally considered, for instance, to play a key role in the initial attractiveness, and sustained competitiveness, of many organizations. Research on this aspect of cognitive functioning has often found a positive relationship between physical exercise and creativity. Gondola and Tuckman (1985) tested the effects of an exercise program, measuring differences at the completion of the program before an individual bout of exercise. The study therefore tested fitness rather than acute exercise and reported small but significant gains in creativity measures of Alternate Uses (spontaneous flexibility) and Remote Consequences (originality), but no significant differences for Obvious Consequences (different ideas). Gondola (1986) replicated this study and added tests of acute (single exercise) bouts, and found that both acute and long-term exercise conditions produced significant gains in all three of these creativity measures. Gondola (1987) tested another form of acute aerobic activity (dance), and found significant effects for all three measures of creativity.
Steinberg et al. (1997) found that acute bouts of aerobic exercise (in an exercise class) produced small but significant effects on creative processes on one of three measures of the Torrance test. Ramocki (2002) extended these findings in testing the effects of various forms of aerobic exercise for physically fit vs. unfit groups. Physically fit subjects engaged in vigorous exercise for one hour and were tested using Torrance-type test forms. The performance gains of the fit subjects following exercise were generally larger, though not always to the point of statistical significance, than those of the unfit subjects, who did not exercise. One possible explanation for these findings, as suggested by the literature on exercise effects on cognitive processes as well as current recommendations of the medical community for individual instances of exercise, is that the one hour period of vigorous exercise created a fatigue level that swamped the main effects of the study. That is, the debilitating effects of fatigue may have mitigated the enhancing effects of arousal.
The few studies relating exercise to creativity processes have generally found positive effects, though varying in strength. However, no studies were found that tested whether such effects are enduring. While establishing the impact of aerobic exercise on creative potential is a potentially important issue, from a pragmatic perspective such effects may be little more than a curiosity if those effects do not last long enough to provide some practical benefits in terms of creative output.

Full study: http://www.ric.edu/faculty/dblanchet...isearticle.htm
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Old 12-23-2009
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Hmmm interesting, I wonder why that is.
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