Singer Sarah McLachlan is actively creative

<i>This Q&A; has been corrected. See the note below for details.</i>

A recent study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who exercise in natural settings enhance their creativity. No surprise then to learn that Sarah McLachlan writes songs in her head while trail running. But 45-year-old singer also takes part in sports that require more attention to the task at hand.

I understand you’re a fan of surfing.

Surfing is my passion because I love being active on the water. It’s my big thing, even though I’m still not that good. A friend of mine in L.A., a famous surfer named Israel Paskowitz, convinced me to come out surfing about 15 years ago, and I fell in love with it. Living in Vancouver, there aren’t many opportunities for me to surf, so I am just paddle boarding there, but I regularly head up to Tofino [on the west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island] to surf. I don’t surf big waves, though.


Were you active as a child?

I’ve been consciously physically active for 20 years, but more so in the last 10 because I eat like a horse and I don’t want to weigh 300 pounds. I also really like the way I feel when I exercise. It energizes me and is a great stress reliever.

All the cardio is good for my lung power for singing. When I’m 75, I still want to be in shape, and it starts at a younger age. It starts now.

Tell me about the other types of exercise you engage in.

I started running about 15 years ago. I used to like trail running with my dogs, but my one remaining dog is too old now. I have a very active boyfriend now who kicks my butt.

I’ve been doing yoga for 15 years as well, and it is probably the thing that has been the most impactful on me because I tend to be a bit spastic and I get overwhelmed fairly easily because I wear a lot of hats. ... It’s a calming force in my life, and I need that. It’s made me kinder and more patient.


I’ve seen research asserting exercising outdoors spurs creativity. Care to comment?

I totally agree. Running is very rhythmic, and I have written a lot of lyrics while out running. It’s a very musical exercise, and sometimes I like to sing when I run. Your whole body is doing the same thing. I’d much rather be in the expanse of the wilderness because it feels like part of my world. It’s a unique perspective. You’re this tiny speck in a huge environment, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.

You mentioned eating like a horse. Can you elaborate?

Well, I’m pretty moderate. I’ll have French fries at least once a week, but at home I eat simple dishes and am munching on leafy, raw vegetables all day. I make a kale smoothie almost every day, and my kids drink them too.

I eat lots of nuts, and I make my own granola. I’ve never dieted in my life; I like food too much. I’m just thoughtful about what I eat, and I’m lucky that I love the taste of vegetables. I’m certainly not “actress skinny,” and I never will be. I’m strong, and my body works great for me.



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[For the Record, 12:05 a.m. Sept. 14: In an earlier version of this Q&A;, the name of singer Sarah McLachlan was incorrectly spelled as Sarah McLaughlin in the subheadline.]