We know that walking is a rewarding form of exercise. Done periodically, this activity can have a truly positive impact on our health. The benefits aren’t just physical though, they also affect our mental health. Walking has the power to reduce stress and anxiety, to alleviate depression and improve our emotional wellbeing. In addition to that, going for a walk can be one of the efficient ways to boost creativity.
Yes, if you didn’t know it, taking a stroll can aid you find inspiration. Some of the world’s greatest minds turned walking into a daily ritual. Beethoven used to take a long walk each day after lunch. Albert Einstein was an avid daily walker, just like Charles Darwin who made a habit of engaging in three, 45-minute walking sessions each day. Friedrich Nietzsche also found walking a calming and intellectually-rewarding activity. He said: “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”.
Many famous composers, writers and scientists found that walking helped them clear their minds, let go of their worries and come up with innovative ideas. After years, these extraordinary benefits have been scientifically proven.
Walking Can Increase Creativity by 60%
In 2014, a research conducted by Stanford University aimed to analyze the effects of walking on creative thinking. In a first phase of the experiment, volunteers were seated at a desk in an office space and asked to use their imagination to solve a specific problem. Afterwards they were asked to a complete a different creativity-related task, but this time while walking on a treadmill. After examining the results, scientists discovered a boost in creativity by approximately 60% when walking in comparison to sitting down.
The study, which involved multiple experiments, provided other interesting conclusions. At a different phase, the participants stepped outside for a walk around the Stanford campus. The final data showed though that there wasn’t a clear difference in creativity between indoor and outdoor walking. According to the scientists, it was the physical movement itself, and not the environment, that sparked inspiration. Another noteworthy conclusion is the fact that you don’t need to walk for a long time. The results showed that strolling somewhere between 5-16 minutes may be enough to generate new ideas.
More Physically Active – More Ingenious
In a different study, professors from the University of Graz investigated the influence of exercise on creativity levels. 79 healthy individuals, aged between 18 and 33 years, took part in the program. Austrian researchers recorded the subjects’ physical activity for a period of five days with the aid of accelerometers and then invited them to complete a series of tests to evaluate their ingenuity.
The tests involved both verbal and figural creativity. The participants were asked to come up with innovative uses of everyday objects such as umbrellas and car tires, and also finish incomplete drawing in an original manner. Those who were more physically active turned out to be more inventive than those who rather sedentary. The results also showed that the intensity of the workout is not relevant in this case. Vigorous training was not more efficient in sparking imagination than moderate-intensity exercise.
The study points out another interesting fact. The participants who exercised more were more creative in comparison to those inactive, but not necessarily happier. Their mood was not always better. This finding suggests that it was not their mood that lead to an improvement in creativity, rather the actual bodily movement.
Tip: Track Your Daily Walks
If you’re set on integrating walking into your daily routine, it’s a good idea to also start tracking your activity. Logging your walks can be useful in many ways. Tracking can keep you accountable, can help you monitor your progress in time and provide the necessary motivation to move forward and reach your fitness goals.
All you need to record and analyze your movement is a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker. Such an app will automatically track your walks and provide relevant information regarding your step count, the distance covered, the calories burned or the time spent active. At the same time, you’ll have the chance to set personal goals for various metrics and see your progress for each day, week or month.
Creativity is not an inborn skill. It’s something that can be developed and improved over time. One of the ways to improve it is through a simple exercise like walking. The cognitive benefits of physical activity are undisputable. Going for a walk can help you get inspired and increase your innovative thinking. It doesn’t even have to be a long walk. A stroll will do it. Just make sure you take a stroll each day.