Stanford study finds walking improves creativity

Richard Lam, a second year undergraduate student at Macquarie University, reflects on  a recent study of Stanford University

walkingStanford’s researchers have found that walking has the ability to increase a person’s creativity level by an average of 60%.

The study on the impact of walking and sitting towards a person’s creativity level has been carried out in a detail manner by Stanford researchers.During the experiments, it was found that a person walking indoors (such as walking on a treadmill) or walking outdoors in the fresh air produced double the creative responses as compared to those who were sitting. More surprisingly, this flow of creativity continues for a short period after a walk.

The research is comprised of four experiments involving 176 college students and other adults where they were asked to complete tasks that examined their creative thinking while walking indoors on a treadmill, sitting indoors, walking outdoors and sitting outdoors (being pushed while sitting on a wheel chair along a predetermined path) respectively. These experiments involves measuring creativity through means such as “divergent thinking” (a thought process used to generate creative ideas and multiple innovative solutions) and the ability to generate complex analogies to prompt phrases. Majority of the participants were more creative while walking than sitting.

On the other hand, the study reveals that even though walking can benefit creative thinking, it does not have any positive effect on focused thinking process that requires succinct, correct answers. It has been shown that walking nurtures “divergent” or creative thinking but would not assist in “convergent” or focused thinking.

This study is very valuable and could possibly lead to further research on neurological and physiological pathways. It would be worthwhile to start considering walking more to become healthier, and a more creative individual!

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