Getting your creative juices flowing doesn’t have to be complicated. It may be as simple as going for a leisurely stroll, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
Researchers from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education conducted a small series of experiments on 176 people. In the first experiment, 48 college students worked on two tasks. The first task involved coming up with alternative uses for common items (e.g. tire, button). The second task involved coming up with a word that combined three other words, such as “cottage,” Swiss,” and “cake,” with the proper response being cheese. The tasks were conducted sitting facing a blank wall and also walking on a treadmill facing a blank wall.
The result: 81 percent of the participants performed better (and more creatively) on the first task while walking on the treadmill. On the second task, they did slightly worse while on the treadmill.
“Walking had a large effect on creativity. Most of the participants benefited from walking compared with sitting, and the average increase in creative output was around 60 [percent],” researchers wrote in the study. “When walking, people also generated more uses, good and bad. Simply talking more, however, was not the sole mechanism for the increased activity. When walking, people generated more uses, and more of those uses were novel and appropriate.”