STANFORD, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) – According to a new study, walking helps to boost creative inspiration.
The study found that the act of walking itself was the main event, not the environment. Creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to sitting.
“Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking,” Marily Oppezzo, a doctoral graduate in educational psychology at Stanford University, and co-author of the study, said in the study. “We finally may be taking a step, or two, toward discovering why.”
The research consisted of four experiments, asking 176 college students to complete tasks. Participants were placed in different conditions, walking or seated, as the sessions were used to measure creativity.
The study found that the overwhelming majority of the participants were more creative while walking than sitting and also found that people would still be at their peak of creativity when they sit back down after a short walk.
The study showed that walking benefited one’s creativity. It did not have an effect on the kind of focused thinking required for a single, correct answer.
“This isn’t to say that every task at work should be done while simultaneously walking, but those that require a fresh perspective or new ideas would benefit from it,” Oppezzo added. “We’re not saying walking can turn you into Michelangelo, but it could help you at the beginning stages of creativity.”
Daniel Schwartz, co-author of the study, predicts that this study can lead to further research.
“There’s work to be done to find out the casual mechanisms,” Schwartz told reporters at Stanford University. “And this is a very robust paradigm that will allow people to begin manipulations, so they can track down how the body is influencing the mind.”
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.