Heat Up Those Creative Juices

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We’ve often stressed that exercise and walking improve cognitive skills, both immediately and in the longer term. We already know that; we take a long walks to ‘get rid of the cobwebs’ after long work sessions, when we’re emotionally worn down or have a difficult problems to solve. Many studies support the idea that walking boosts brain health … now we know that boost includes the creative thought functions too!
 
New research demonstrates a clear correlation between walking and creative thinking. In a series of experiments, researchers from Stanford University in California compared levels of creativity in people while they were walking and while they were sitting. The study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, found another great reason for walking as part of a well-rounded fitness regimen. It boosts your creativity!
 
Researchers from Stanford University conducted a series of four experiments that included 176 participants. The group was comprised of college students and other adults who walked or sat in outdoor and indoor environments. Participants were also asked to complete their walking and sitting sessions using a specific mix of walking and sitting. During the sessions, participants were engaged in tasks that are used to measure the creative thought process. The tasks all focused on divergent thinking creativity — coming up with ideas by thinking of multiple possible solutions – in three experiments. Answers were rated by originality and usefulness. The walkers ranked higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting! In one indoor experiment, the participants walked on a treadmill and scored an average of 60% higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting!
 
A fourth experiment tested a more complex type of creativity in which participants respond to simple cues with complex analogies. The study found that 100% of the participants walking outdoors came up with at least one high-quality complex analogy, compared with thinking of 50% high-quality complex analogies when they were sitting indoors!
 
Researchers are not sure exactly why a casual walk has such a strong effect on the creative thinking process, but you can add this to your list of reasons to take a walk.
 
Take a walk, you’ll be healthier, happier and more creative!
 
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Fitness Pays Off!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s spring and many of us are striving for our personal peak in physical fitness. Whether we want to look better, to feel better, or to fulfill a personal goal, the fact is, exercise effects a lot more than our waistlines!
 
Boosts Immunity. It is believed that physical activity may help clear the the lungs of bacteria and remove cancer-causing cells by increasing waste output. In also increases the activity rate of the antibodies and white blood cells as they travel throughout the body. Finally, the temporary rise of body temperature may actually prevent the growth of bacteria, allowing you to fight infections more efficiently.
 
Reduces Stress. Recently scientists from Princeton were trying to understand how exercise reduces anxiety while at the same time creating ‘excitable neurons’ in the hippocampus, the part of the brain helps direct thinking and emotional responses. They conducted a study that divided mice into two groups, one group was placed in a sedentary environment while the other group were given the opportunity to run on a wheel and be physically active. After six weeks, the running mice were more confident and willing to explore new areas. At the end of the study, all the mice were restricted from physical activity, then were placed in a stressful situation to which they all responded with distress. However, the mice that had ample physical activity quickly calmed down and were markedly less anxious than the mice that had been sedentary for six weeks, supporting the idea that exercise offers both short- and long-term benefits!
 
Promotes Healthy Sleep Patterns. Sleep does more than keep you feeling refreshed! A number of studies indicate that lack of sleep increases your risk of developing serious physical problems, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease! Exercise can help there, too. A four-month long study from Northwestern University of sedentary adults suffering from insomnia found that participants slept better at the end of the four month period where moderate exercise was introduced into their lifestyles. In another study, people who exercised regularly for 10 weeks found that they slept better.
 
Improves Thought Process. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh followed more than 600 people, aged 70 years and older. During the study, participants logged their daily physical, mental and social activities for three years. Scientist then ran image scans of the brain. They found that the subjects who engaged in the most physical exercise demonstrated less shrinkage or damage to the brain’s white matter — which is comprised of nerve fibers that form the connections between the nerve cells and the fatty substance myelin which protects protects those fibers. Research from New Zealand indicated that that exercise improves the general brain processes of planning, memory and reasoning for everyone — young or old!
 
Many studies show that exercise improves your body image and lifts your general sense of well being … if that’s not enough to get you going … you will look better in those shorts!
 
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Families Who Kayak Together Have More Fun

 
Thank goodness winter is over. For those of us who aren’t into winter sports, spring couldn’t come fast enough this year, and with it, a return to water activities. Few other watersports for the family are enjoying the growing popularity that kayaking and stand up paddleboards are seeing.
 
“We’re seeing more families buying multiple boats. Typically, it starts off with a parent buying a kayak and before long, other family members want their own,” said Mark Palinsky of Old Town Canoes and Kayaks. He recommends his company’s Vapor and Dirigo models for their stability and all-purpose use.
 
“Kayaks for kids and stand up paddleboards continue to grow in popularity,” said Lisa Senecal, Pelican International. “Prices are coming down, making it more affordable to get the family into the sport.”
 
When buying a kayak for your children, the experts offer the following advice: Make sure you get your child a boat that he or she is going to be comfortable in. A lot of people make the mistake of buying a kayak that’s too big for the child, thinking that the child will grow into it. Both of our experts warn against this approach, as it can lead to unenjoyable and unsafe situations for the child.
 
Sit-On-Top kayaks and SUPs are great options for anyone new to
the sport, as they tend to be very stable. “Our Vibe 80 is great for kids. It’s a stand up paddleboard that is very stable and easy to rectify if it starts tipping,” Senecal added. Her company is also noticing greater interest in specialty boards. She mentioned that women are using them for yoga and core exercising. A chance to get some sun, fresh air and exercise: what a winning combination!
 
No matter which option you choose, safe boating is paramount. Both experts recommend wearing a properly fitting personal floating device and to never paddle alone. “This is a sport that is safer and much more enjoyable when shared with someone,” Palinsky said.
 
“Be aware of the water and weather conditions to make sure they are favorable for boating,” Senecal added. She also recommends a sound device, such as a whistle, to warn other crafts.
 
Dunham’s carries a wide range of kayaks and SUPs in a variety of purposes, configurations and price points. Be sure to consult with a sales representative to help you make an informed decision.
 
-Paddle Bum
 
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