Stroll for Thought


From artists to office workers, many people say that going for a walk helps them work out ideas or overcome creative blocks.  Now there’s new research that shows that taking a stroll really does give you a mental boost.

LiveScience is reporting on a study on “walking and thinking” conducted by researchers at Santa Clara University.

In one experiment, college students completed one set of tasks while seated, and a second set of tasks while walking on a treadmill.

Walking seemed to improve the students’ scores on a test of creative thinking.  In the test, participants were given the name of an object and had to come up with as many alternate uses for that object as they could in four minutes.

For example, one person in the study said a button could be used as a doorknob for a dollhouse, an eye for a doll, a tiny strainer, or “to drop behind you to keep your path.”

The researchers said they don’t have an explanation for why walking may increase a person’s creativity.  It’s not clear if other forms of low-intensity physical activity, or another familiar, comfortable task would have the same effect on the mind.

Future studies will eventually find the complex pathway from the physical act of walking to the cognitive changes in the brain, the researchers said.

By the way, creative types have praised the virtues of walking for centuries. In fact, several musicians were almost superstitious in their devotion to daily walks.

Tchaikovsky took a two-hour walk each day regardless of the weather, and Beethoven regularly went for a brisk stroll after lunch

Novelist Charles Dickens was an avid walker, and the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.”

Okay, I’m convinced.  I’m going to take a little stroll right now!

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