In a creative funk? Walk it off!

Ever feel like you’ve “gotta get outta Dodge” and take a walk to clear your head before you can solve your latest creative challenge?

Well, apparently there’s a reason for that:  Walking boosts creativity.

And it doesn’t matter whether you walk outside or on a treadmill. Although the former is probably far more enjoyable, the effects are the same. A recent study by Stanford University researchers Marily Oppezzo, a doctoral candidate in educational psychology, and Daniel Schwartz, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education found that walking can spark far more creativity than just sitting.  On average, an individual’s creative output increased by 60 percent when walking.

In their experiments, college students who walked indoors – on a treadmill in a room facing a blank wall – and outdoors in the fresh air had twice as many creative responses compared to those who sat down. “I thought walking outside would blow everything out of the water, but walking on a treadmill in a small, boring room still had strong results, which surprised me,” Oppezzo said.

The study also found that creative juices continued to flow even when the students sat down after their walks.

“Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking. We finally may be taking a step, or two, toward discovering why,” Oppezzo and Schwartz wrote in their study published on April 21, 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

So next time you’re stuck — and the weather outside isn’t too frightful — get out of the office and take a walk.  And, although the study doesn’t support this, I would also suggest bringing some cash. Just in case there’s an ice cream store en route!


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