Want to be More Creative? Walk

I've long found it to be true.  Taking a walk (or a run) is good for your head.

Now a new study says taking a walk may lead to more creativity than sitting.  Duh.  I think what they meant to say is that your creativity can really be stirred when you're moving.

I jog every morning and a lot of ideas for essays come to me during this time.  I especially like the early mornings now, when it's still dark but the birds are at it, chirping and singing away (they know spring is here, even if we don't).  I often write pieces in my head when I'm running.

So what's sitting good for?  Not much.  Other studies have found that those of us who sit too much will die younger.  (Even though I exercise avidly for part of the morning, the rest of the day I tend to sit at my computer or, OK, I'll admit it, the TV.)

"Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking," said Marily Oppezzo, PhD, of Santa Clara University at newswise.com. "With this study, we finally may be taking a step or two toward discovering why."

The study found that those who walked instead of sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair "consistently gave more creative responses on tests commonly used to measure creative thinking, such as thinking of alternate uses for common objects and coming up with original analogies to capture complex ideas," according to newswise.com.  And these were college students, not seniors in nursing homes.

 "Asking someone to take a 30-minute run to improve creativity at work would be an unpopular prescription for many people," study author Daniel L. Schwartz, PhD, at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education, said. "We wanted to see if a simple walk might lead to more free-flowing thoughts and more creativity."

Students who walked in another experiment doubled their number of novel responses compared with when they were sitting. The 40 students in this experiment were divided into three groups: One sat for two sets of tests but moved to separate rooms for each set; another sat and then walked on a treadmill; and one group walked outdoors along a predetermined path.

Was it just being outside that contributed to the feeling of creativity? "While being outdoors has many cognitive benefits, walking appears to have a very specific benefit of improving creativity," the Web site quoted Oppezzo.


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