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Boost creativity and critical thinking by walking

Boost creativity and critical thinking by walking

Five reasons why you should make walking part of your daily routine to boost creativity

Business moguls, entrepreneurs, and innovators all take to walking as a way of clearing their minds, developing new ideas, and basically boosting creativity. Throughout history, many big minds have valued walking for helping them tap into their creativity. Steve Jobs was famous for and valued walking for helping him tap into his creativity for contemplation and meetings.

Many people claim that moving about often brings about their best ideas, and for the skeptics, there is science to back these claims. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel, Students from Stanford University, studied 176 college students in 2014 as they engaged in various creative thinking tasks. For this study, Marily and Daniel used Guilford's Alternative Uses Tasks, which required participants to list as many alternative uses for one everyday object as possible. The answers were all scored based on the number of ideas listed, originality, and detail.

To achieve the objectives of this study, the authors asked college students to perform these tasks in varied conditions. They were instructed to sit outdoors or outdoors, walk outside or on treadmills. It emerged that people who took the study walking on treadmills or outdoors were significantly more creative than when they were seated. 81% of those who took the study claimed to experience heightened creativity while on the move. A consequent test after walking indicated that the participants were still more creative. This proved that the positive effects of walking lasted even after sitting down.

That was the only study into the effects of walking on creativity, but there are clear indications that it increases blood flow around your brain, which stimulates creativity. The Stanford University Study also revealed that it doesn't matter whether you walk outside or indoors as it is not about the environment but rather the act of walking.

However, the walking study also showed that if one has to focus on a question that requires a single answer, the results are the same whether one is walking or sitting. According to this study, walking only affects the creative mind and doesn't come in handy when there are predefined answers to a question.

This study simply shows that walking can aid creative brain function, especially when you feel stuck at your desk. Instead of waiting for your creative block to fade away on its own, head out for five minutes to see if increased blood flow to the brain will boost your creativity. A few minutes of brisk walking, for example, helps reduce stress hormone levels, which in turn improves your mood and makes it easier for you to develop ideas.

Walking will keep you healthy

Nilofer Merchant, a busy business innovator, confessed to difficulties fitting exercise into her busy routine during a TED talk a few years back. During her talk, she made it clear that we spend a whopping 10 hours on our backsides every day. Needless to say, this is a negative statistic that is bad for our behinds and hearts.

Medical statistics show that physical inactivity is a leading cause of diabetes, heart disease, and several debilitating cancers. Physical inactivity is the leading cause of colon and breast cancer, so you might consider daily walks to reduce the risk. Walking works your muscles and tones them to keep you looking trim and well-structured despite the nature of your job. Spending hours hunched over a desk may rake in some good cash for you, but you might spend it all on doctors' fees trying to correct your spine, lose weight, or treat a heart condition.

Merchant compares sitting to smoking, a slow, silent killer whose effects people will discover later. Walking is like a magic pill that is needed in small doses to ward off colon cancer and dementia and marginally lower your risk of heart disease. Thirty minutes of walking would suffice, but if you do not have time, consider breaking it down into 10-minute chunks to give your body and brain some much-needed exercise. Remember that if you do not have the time to venture outdoors, you can walk on a treadmill for the same benefits to your mind, body, and soul.

Walking will increase your productivity

The TV show 'The West Wing' proves this fact too well. The busy staffers at the presidential office were ever too busy to sit around for meetings. This situation led to the walk-and-talk philosophy, where people always do things on the move. Today, walking meetings are the thing, especially in Silicon Valley. The notion is that rather than holding meetings across a desk, it is better to take it outside and exercise while at it. Nilofer Merchant claims that she gets most of her exercise from the walking meetings she holds throughout the week, and the good thing is that these are usually the most productive.

There are fewer distractions as people walk because they have to leave their smartphones in the office and need more computer access, which is the most significant cause of interruptions when people hold office meetings. With fewer distractions, people are able to concentrate on their work and, therefore, develop ideas that will grow their businesses.

ic:Increase productivity and efficiency

This is impossible for some people who do not like being away from their devices. Such people suffer anxiety whenever they are away from their beloved smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. To them, a minute away from these gadgets may cause them to miss important messages that may be important to their businesses. Adopting walking meetings with a clue on how to conduct yourself can also be challenging. If you are wondering about taking notes, why not use traditional pen and paper? You can also record your ramblings on the move and assess them when you return to the office. Despite the awkwardness initially, people soon discover and appreciate the immense benefits of walking to creativity and health.

If you are interested in meetings on the move, start with a colleague who loves to get out and about. You can arrange meetings with them throughout the week to brainstorm and discuss work matters. After some time, you can engage with other colleagues to bring fresh ideas to the table. With time, your company will become one that values walking and talking as an excellent way to remain fit, vibrant, and creative. At this point, the most important thing to do is inform others of your intentions so that they can prepare for the walking meetings in advance. The ladies, for example, will need to carry a pair of comfortable sneakers to replace their high heels during walks. They will also take enough water to prevent dehydration as they walk.

Walking is an excellent way of communication

Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs prefer walking meetings, especially for the first time, because people are more natural. Walking meetings should preferably be between two people as it becomes more challenging to communicate with a walking mass of people. If you find it difficult to speak with someone in an office setting, consider taking a walk with them and see how much it helps. Walks not only trigger creativity but also help people communicate ideas more fluently. Many people report that it is easier to communicate while on the move than when stuck in an office with intimidating board members. This is likely why potential employers interview fresh candidates as they walk around. According to them, people tend to open up and reveal their authentic selves when moving, making it the best way to vet candidates.

It helps you follow in the footsteps of great men

Walter Isaacs's biography of Steve Jobs revealed his passion for walking, but he was not the first genius to have a penchant for walking. Beethoven loved walks to stretch his feet as he worked and spent most afternoons walking around Vienna. During these walks, he always brought a pencil and paper to jot down whatever he found fascinating. His famous symphonies, including the 6th, with clear countryside and woodland elements, reflect the walks.

Motivated by Beethoven, Goethe also took to walking to nurture his creativity. The two met in Teplice, a resort town on the Czech-German border, and went talking and walking in the town. Unfortunately, those two developed a dislike for one another, but I hope that the famous Goethe continued taking walks.

Charles Dickens was another creative genius who loved taking long walks at home in Kent or London. He walked for miles when he felt like it or had a problem. The author would walk until he found a solution to the problem in his mind.

Experts advise people to take walks in moderation because exerting their feet too much can make the cure worse than the disease. This certainly worked for Dickens, though, as he reportedly developed his most memorable characters while walking in the city.

Charles Darwin also enjoyed walking around his home in Kent. He had a gravel path installed at his house to walk around daily as he tried to figure things out. The number of laps Darwin took around the gravel path depended on the nature of the problem he was trying to solve. His style was stacking stones at the beginning of his walks and knocking them down as he went around. His problems were, therefore, defined as three, four, five, or six-flint problems.

Zuckerberg of Facebook is particularly fond of walking meetings during which he conducts interviews. He loves taking people on a tour of the campus, pointing to different sections as he seeks their opinions. Nearly all of his walking meetings end on a promontory overlooking Silicon Valley and other tech giants, where he is quick to point out that he is indeed richer, bigger, and better than those below. Woe unto you if you do not accept his offer, as you might just get pushed off.

The founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, now heads a new digital finance company called Square. He always takes new Square hires on a walk he calls the Gandhi Walk every Friday. It is a memorable walk around San Francisco's streets, during which Dorsey spells out the guiding principles behind his company.

If you prefer walking through the parks and streets or wandering in the woods as opposed to meeting in stuffy offices, it is evident that you are in the company of the best minds in the world.

Get walking today!

Walking will certainly help with your creativity, keep you fit, and improve your communication of ideas to colleagues.

My studio is located in the Haliburton Highlands, and I take my dogs for a 5km brisk walk each day.

It is through fantastic walks that you will increase your lifespan by successfully warding off diseases. You might not be able to do it every day, especially when it is cold and raining outside, but it is certainly worth it.

No matter how much you want to make walking a part of your daily routine, take things in moderation to avoid injuries to yourself. Long walks seem like the way to go, but it is not advisable because they could lead to a total aversion to walking. Start by taking a few minutes to walk every day, and soon, you will find taking random walks as easy as… walking.

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