Many times I’ve written about the positive effects running has on my writing, for instance an hour run helps cure my writer’s block, like when I can’t work out a scene in a story or come to an impasse concerning plot or a character. But that’s just me talking. Now I have evidence that literary luminaries used aerobic exercise to help them write the same way this obscure little fish in big literary sea does.
An article int the January/February issue of Poets & Writers, Celia Johnson discusses how aerobic exercise was crucial to the productivity and creativity of many literary icons. Of Charles Dickens, Johnson writes that he typically wrote from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m., when he would step outside onto the streets of London or wherever he was staying and “walk as much as twenty miles in an afternoon. He relied on his walks not only for creative stimulus but also for stress relief.” Dickens walked briskly, as fast as four and a half miles per hour. She goes on to say that walking was one of the most common quirks of many great writers.
The English essayist Thomas De Quincey estimated that by William Wordsworth’s late sixties he had “traversed a distance of 175,000 to 180,000 English miles.” Other walking enthusiast who were literary greats included Victor Hugo, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Henry David Thoreau, to name a few.
That aerobic exercise boosts creativity is no secrete, many studies have been published on the topic. One such study is Aerobic Exercise and Creative Potential: Immediate and Residual Effects. But the effects don’t pertain solely to running. Walking, gardening, and housework are all activities that are both good for your health and simulate the brain as well. It’s all about living an active lifestyle.