All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Exercise might not literally be magic, but when it comes to the numerous physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits it may as well be. I have previously written about the many benefits of physical activity, but today I want to share its power to boost creativity.
I recently rode my bike to work and a project that I had been dabbling in with inconsistent motivation and many blocks finally materialized itself upon my arrival to work. This isn't the first time that's happened.
A 2014 Stanford study analyzing four interventions that compared walking to sitting revealed that walking boosts creativity by 60%. It was also found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. Surprisingly, the act of walking itself, not the environment, was the main factor.
A good explanation from an article in the New Yorker:
"When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them."
Walking has preventive health benefits as well. Walking for just half an hour a day reduces the risk of stroke by 27% and cuts the risk of diabetes by 60%. It's also a highly effective way to reduce your stress, depression, and anxiety. Like any form of exercise, walking releases endorphins which give pleasure to your brain and reduces stress hormones. A brisk 20- to 30-minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer, and walking daily for a half-hour has been shown to quickly relieve major depression. It can also produce substantial improvement in mood in patients with major depressive disorders.
So whether you're searching for a new or novel idea, experiencing writer's block, or are just feeling blue consider walking! Its an easy-to-implement, low-resource strategy that makes us feel great. Yes, we all have our unique barriers to physical activity, but remember that even just eight minutes of walking can help us generate more creative ideas!
Hello and welcome! My name is Andrea Notch Mayzeles. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, Mom, and Master of Public Health dedicated to the path of well-being. As a wellness professional I am committed to continued learning and am here to share research, recipes and musings on health, psychology, personal development, and parenting. I hope you enjoy!