Here's one more thing people who regularly exercise can add to their brag list: They may be more creative!
A new study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that regular exercisers do better on tests of creativity than their more sedentary peers.
Specifically, researchers noted that regular exercise seems to be associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, which are considered the two components of creative thinking; the former involves thinking of multiple solutions for one problem, while the latter involves thinking of one solution for a problem.
"Exercising on a regular basis may thus act as a cognitive enhancer promoting creativity in inexpensive and healthy ways," study researcher Lorenza Colzato, a cognitive psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in a statement.
To determine the association between exercise and creativity, researchers had 48 athletes (who exercised at least four times a week) and 48 non-athletes (who didn't regularly exercise) do a creativity test. For the first part of the test, the participants had to think of alternate uses for a pen and write them down. Then, the participants were presented with a series of three words and asked to find the link that connected them (for instance, "long" connects the words "time," "hair" and "stretch").
Researchers found that the regular exercisers did better on the second task compared with those who didn't regularly exercise.
Past research has identified other unlikely factors that seem to be associated with creativity. Messiness, for instance, has been tied to innovation and willingness to try new things in a Psychological Science study published earlier this year. Being bored at work could also spur creativity by providing more daydreaming time, researchers from University of Central Lancashire found.
Want to find out how creative you are? Try taking this test to get a sense!