RSSWalking improves creative thinking

Posted on Wed, 12 Aug 15

Walking improves creative thinking

Give your ideas legs by going for a walk, according to research from Stanford University. Walking in nature is even better, and the effect extends to when you sit down to do creative work shortly after.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking,” said Friedrich Nietzsche (1889), so to test this idea researchers conducted a series of experiments in which peoples creative thinking was tested during sedentary activity, during, or after walking both indoors on a treadmill and in nature.

Firstly they tested the difference in creative thinking while seated and then when walking on a treadmill and found an increase of up to 81%. In a second experiment they found that when people were seated after walking they had a residual creative boost. And in some final experiments they found that when compared to indoors, walking outdoors produced the most novel and highest quality creative thinking. 

“Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity,” they concluded. “Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking. We finally may be taking a step, or two, toward discovering why.”


Oppezzo M, Schwartz DL. Give your ideas some legs: the positive effect of walking on creative thinking. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2014 Jul;40(4):1142-52.

Tags: Walking, Exercise, Nature, Forest Bathing

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