Walking boosts creative thinking
Walking more may help stimulate a person's ability to think creatively, concludes a new study from Stanford University.
Scientists recruited 176 college-aged adults and had them take a test of their divergent thinking creativity—the ability to generate ideas by thinking of multiple possible solutions. The test entailed thinking of multiple uses for different objects under a time limit. Test scores were based on novelty—whether other participants thought of the same idea—and appropriateness—whether the ideas were realistic.
The researchers had the study’s participants take the test while walking or sitting under various conditions. The subjects either walked outdoors or indoors or were pushed in a wheelchair for between five and 16 minutes.
The results of the study showed that the majority of the participants scored an average of 60 percent higher on the test when they were walking rather than sitting. Researchers said that creative thinking seemed to be boosted while walking either outdoors or indoors and also that creative thinking levels remained elevated for a period of time after a walk.
The study’s findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, provided more evidence of the importance of fitting physical activity into the day. Researchers are now planning to investigate why walking seems to only benefit the thought processes involved in divergent thinking.