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Mental well-being

Walking, the godfather of creativity

Not just good for your heart, getting your walking shoes on is also great for firing up the imagination.

 Dan Murray-Serter
Dan Murray-Serter
April 13, 2020
2 min read

In a creative slump? As the late James Brown said, get up offa that thing, and walk ‘til you feel better. (I mean, I’m paraphrasing)

There’s some epic walkers out there (like Professor Shane O’Mara, who literally wrote the book on it—read his article for Heights here); touting its benefits from building resilience to stress to improving muscle mass. But now, to add to its plethora of good points, researchers have shown that walking gives you a creativity boost too.

In three experiments where participants walked or stayed in place for a set period, they were asked to complete standard creativity tests - like thinking of unusual uses for everyday objects. People were more creative within the first few minutes of walking, but that boost wore off after just 8 minutes.

They also got a burst of creativity when they sat down again, after walking. Just knowing that their walking time was almost up — therefore prepping for a change in activity level — seemed to get the creative juices flowing.

To sum up, it seems that it’s the change in activity level that causes the creative energy to flow, so you can navigate new situations.

You’ve only got 8 minutes.

The 8 minutes when you start walking, or get back from a walk are your most creative time - so jump right on it to reap the benefits. To do this while you’re in motion - consider leaving yourself a voicenote, or taking a buddy along with you to brainstorm with.

Three tips to get some creative movement in your day

1- In the classroom or boardroom

Get the group to stand up and move around a bit, before beginning an ideas session to inspire more creative input.

2- Move your meetings

Shift your team meetings outside their normal office space to increase creativity, or if you’re a small team, try a walking meeting once in a while (Steve Jobs was famous for these).

3- Stand up, and sit down

If you’re desk-bound for most of the day, set yourself a reminder to get up and wander about on a regular basis. Not only will this boost your creative thinking, it’ll also be giving that “sitting is as bad as smoking” the proverbial middle finger.

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