Walking promotes creative thinking

Walking promotes creative thinking

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Get creative by walking

Walking strengthens “creative brainstorming”, according to a study by the US research team led by Daniel Schwartz from Stanford University and Marily Oppezzo from Santa Clara University. Difficult tasks, the solutions of which require a high degree of creativity, are best solved during a walk.

Exercise not only strengthens physical health, but also the creative mind. As the scientists report in the journal "Journal of Experimental Psychology", students achieved significantly better results when testing their creative thinking skills when they walked in parallel on a treadmill or outdoors. The effect continued for some time after walking.

Better performance in creativity tests during exercise In four different experiments, the US scientists investigated possible connections between physical exercise and the mind. 179 students should take a test of their association skills and creative thinking first while sitting and then on the treadmill. According to the researchers, 81 percent of the subjects achieved a better result in the test of their creativity when moving. In the test on convergent thinking, however, only 23 percent of the participants did better on the treadmill than when sitting. Many had shown that the movement had a counterproductive effect on the ability to associate. The creativity test was based on the specification of a known subject, for which alternative uses should be mentioned. In the association test, the subjects should recognize from a series of words how the words can be meaningfully supplemented with an additional word (e.g. fire, flight, knitting with stuff).

Creativity is also increased after walking. In the second experiment, the subjects should complete the two tests after they have first sat and then walked on the treadmill or after they walked and then sat down. The researchers were able to determine that the improvement in creative thinking continues even after walking. The previous walk resulted in a "creative boost" when the test was then completed while sitting. The third experiment generally tested the effect of outdoor exercise on creative and convergent thinking, and the fourth experiment compared whether outdoor exercise in the fresh air may also have advantages over treadmill exercise. For this purpose, the participants sat and walked indoors during the tests, went inside on a treadmill and then outdoors, or were pushed around in an outdoor wheelchair. Walking outdoors has brought about the most significant improvement in creative thinking, Oppezzo and Schwartz report.

Using walking specifically to increase creativity According to the researchers, it remains unclear in what way walking leads to an improvement in creative thinking, but the effect cannot be dismissed out of hand. “Walking opens up the free exchange of ideas and is a simple and reliable way to increase creativity,” concluded Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz. At the same time, physical activity generally strengthens health. (fp)

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