Workout to improve… intellectual productivity?

As a student, I would jog regularly. It helped me cope with stress.

I gave up jogging, but I still often start my day by a long walk. It seems to be correlated with higher intellectual productivity. I see two possible explanations:

  • Physical workout has a mood relaxing effect.
  • As you workout, you outline your work and generate new ideas.

What do you think?

Reference: R.T. Kellogg, Writing method and productivity of science and engineering faculty, 25 (2), 1986.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

7 thoughts on “Workout to improve… intellectual productivity?”

  1. Exercise works but I’ve often wondering what the true reason is. I have found other activities that force you to be alone and away from the computer to effective ways of re-energizing. For example, spending a couple of hours resurfacing the backyard skating rink.

  2. “Three other aspects of writing method were also related to high productivity, but they were not widely employed […] the ritual of exercising vigorously before or during a writing session.”

    Heh, I’ve never tried exercising vigorously while writing.

    We just got ourselves a pair of dance pads for Christmas. I’ll let you know how that goes.

  3. There’s a huge literature on impact of exercise on mental health. Some studies have shown exercise to be more effective against ADD and depression than traditional drug therapies, so I also think the effect is mostly physiological. Paradoxically I also find it easiest to focus when sleep deprived, for instance, after a sleepless night on a plane. Perhaps it’s the same mechanism that temporarily cures severely depressed subjects after a night of sleep deprivation.

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