exercise and poetry

Can Exercise Influence Your Poetry Practice?

Have you ever felt a surge of creativity after a sweat-filled spin class? Or have you ever experienced a breakthrough after a run around your block?

We’ve known for a long time that mental and physical health are connected and can impact one another. 


Exercise can have a positive impact on your mood, sleep, productivity, and even your memory.  (Take a second to read this article because it is really exciting stuff!) But, did you know that research has also suggested a link between exercise and increased creativity?


Studies show that when you engage in a moderate exercise program, you increase the number of new brain cells in your hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. These same studies are taking the concept even further by exploring the effects of exercise on creative expression as well. It doesn’t have to be anything super strenuous: even a walk can help you find your creative stride! 


Exercise has always been about the wellness of both the body and the mind. You can be encouraged by the fact that you are taking care of both physical stamina and creative endurance each time you lace up your shoes or pick up the weights.


Your poetry will benefit from the creative boost but also from the mood-boosting effects of physical activity. Sometimes, you need to get all of your feelings out on paper, and sometimes you need to let it all out during a run or mind-clearing walk. Sometimes, I have so many emotions coursing through me that it almost makes me feel blocked and overwhelmed. I have no idea where to go with my writing because there are just too many thoughts fighting for my energy and attention.


After exercise, I often find that some of what I was originally worried about has fallen away, and it frees me up to explore what remains or to make sense of the jumble of thoughts that had me so blocked in the first place. 


At first glance, you may wonder: what does exercise have to do with poetry? But, when you think about the brain-body connection, it all starts to make a lot of sense. I’m hoping that this article gives you yet another way to help strengthen your poetry practice. As we talked about in our journaling article, there are so many things that help set a good foundation for our best writing. These different disciplines all play a part in helping you create your next great poem. An added plus? You are taking care of your physical body at the same time. 


One of my favorite forms of exercise is walking. I love the opportunity to connect with the world around me and disconnect from the distractions that leave me sidetracked. Being out in nature on these walks give me a chance to start going over new ideas in my head or letting go of old ones. It may not always be productive in the sense of producing a polished poem, but it always helps me recenter and renew my perspective. Exercise is another rhythm to add to our days to invest in ourselves and in our poetry. 


Do you have a favorite form of exercise that helps get the creativity pumping? Tell us about a moment of creative clarity you’ve experienced with the help of an exercise routine.