Those who take a walk to clear their head may also fill it with other health benefits.
Walking is a healthy activity that jumpstarts your body by increasing your energy. So when our minds are running on empty—a dilemma, anger, or stress using too much psychological fuel— many people stomp the streets to clear their head. Walking it off reduces stress, as well as improves sleep, slims your waistline, and reduces the risk of heart disease. While the body benefits immensely from this not-so-physical activity, new studies find that walking gives us a mental boost, sparking creativity in our minds.
Taking a walk has been said to help those overcome creative obstacles, as they flesh out ideas and find inspiration for new ones. In comparison to sitting, the American Psychological Association’s research found that walking leads to more creative thinking. “Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking,” Marily Oppezzo, one of study researcher’s from Santa Clara University, said in a statement.
College students mostly participated in the 176 people study at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and were led by Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz, PhD. The research, which was published in the APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition,found that the participants who walked instead of sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair provided more creative responses. In a specific experiment, these responses consisted of original analogies about complex ideas.
In one experiment, 100% of the students tested while walking came up with more creative ideas. Furthermore, 95%, 88% and 81% of those who walked in the other experiments were more creative in their responses compared to when they were sitting.
In order to make sure that walking, not being outdoors was the direct factor that inspired the imagination, the researchers conducted another experiment where they compared responses of students walking outside or inside on a treadmill with the responses of students being pushed in a wheelchair outside and sitting inside. It did not matter whether the participants walked in or outdoors. “While being outdoors has many cognitive benefits, walking appears to have a very specific benefit of improving creativity,” said Oppezzo in a statement.
It appears that walking more each day can be beneficial for both the body and the mind.