Can Cycling Really Fuel Creativity?
What a year it has been for British cycling. Earlier this year I attempted to ride with a group of cyclist from London to Barcelona. 1000 miles in 10 days all in the cause of charity. Many might think this is a crazy thing to attempt however I love a challenge and it turned out to be one of the most amazing events in my life to date. And believe it or not, whilst getting saddle sore in the blistering heat, I found huge amounts of time to explore my creative thoughts! How can this be you might ask, well to get scientific, cycling can increase the parts of the brain that govern creativity as it can help ease the pathway between two areas of the brain, the prefrontal cortex (the important creative part) and the amygdala (the negative part). This allows the prefrontal cortex to dispel the negative thoughts produced by the amygdala and allow creative thoughts to be more prominent. Whilst cycling you are living in the moment, you are mostly alone, silent, relaxed and most importantly you are extremely focused. You are slowing down your thinking processes yet increasing the ﬂow of oxygen to your brain, sparking your nerves and giving you breathing space away from the muddle up pressures of ‘real life’. You are being present in the moment and living life.
“A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking”
Each ride tells a unique story and stories are important for a creative mind to blossom. Early on whilst peddling my way through France, it became clear that I was building up a relationship with raw aspects of life that you don’t experience unless you get out of the studio and on the road. The weather, the traffic, balance, rhythm and sheer mortality when nearly being wiped out by a french lorry are all elements that play a part in a journey on a bike. These inspire the creative mind to think differently, and inspire ideas that one might not usually experience. My mission to Barcelona was a truly humbling experience and a creative story that has since changed many aspects of my life. I am now back at work in ‘sunny’ Manchester, and although working at unit36 is a fun place to work, like all designers I get creative block. So, what is my answer, well I jump on my bike after work and get into that creative moment once more, the creative now, and guess what, you too will feel great afterwards as well!
Video highlights of the 1000 mile trip filmed and edited by the talented Neil Mackay