It’s no revelation that walking does wonders for our health. The combination of fresh air against our skin, the beauty and calmness of nature and the pounding of our feet provide a refreshing and doable form of exercise that we all do, in one way or another, every single day. But what if there was more to walking than we thought?
It turns out that walking not only helps us reach our exercise quota and maintain a high level of wellbeing, but it boosts our creativity too. It’s popular amongst many writers past and present, such as Ernest Hemingway, J.K Rowling and Henry David Thoreau for curing writer’s block, allowing the creative juices to flow again.
Lucky for us, science can now back this up. One of the most fascinating studies on this topic was done by Stanford University where they tested “divergent thinking” – the ability to generate creative ideas by exploring many different possible solutions. 176 adults were gathered to take part in a variety of tasks, one of which involved using objects to think up as many possible responses within a 4-minute time frame. If no other participant gave the same response, it was considered original and of creative merit. Remarkably, those that walked had a 60% increase in creative output.
Some may question the value of the act of walking itself – what about the surroundings or the effect of community on exercise appreciation? These are all valid points. However, when the participants of the Stanford University Study stepped foot on a treadmill, the same result occurred. It seemed that nature, whilst it could have boosted their wellbeing, didn’t solely drive their creativity; the exercise itself did.
So why is walking so influential for inspiration?
It seems there is no definitive evidence for this, despite all signs leading to its conclusion. Because walking engages multiple parts of the brain needed to coordinate movement and maintain balance, it is likely this plays an important factor, but there is still much more research to be done.
Now that we know the power walking has on our mind, it is worth experimenting how it can be used to drive our most productive work. When we are feeling at a loss for inspiration or need a boost of energy, why not go for a short walk?
As German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” So why not try it, get out walking, energise the mind, and journal when you get back and see where your creativity takes you.
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