Healthy Writer Wednesday: Can Walking Boost Creativity?

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out until sundown: for in going out, I found, was really going in. – John Muir

When I went on my travel/grandson visit/research-my-book adventure, I ended up doing a lot of walking. I walked through the small town where my daughter lives. I strolled through the town square, up the county courthouse steps and through the doors of several shops. I walked up and down the streets.

exploring a small town

I took slow thoughtful steps, taking in the peaceful atmosphere, listening to the rustle of trees and barking of dogs, as that was all there was to hear. Walking relaxed me and helped me think through several plot ideas I had been considering for my WIP.

big city walking

Then I hit the big city for my book research. I did a lot of walking there, too. I walked down narrow city streets full of traffic, noise and people. I walked through the city open-air market, bustling with commerce, animals and the smells of wonderful things baking. Then I went back to my hotel room and wrote. I felt energized by my interactions and the ideas that formed on my slow deliberate small town walks came dripping off my fingers onto the paper. Was it the change of scenery that inspired me? The cityscapes where my WIP is set? Or was it the walking itself? Does walking promote creativity?

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. – Henry David Thoreau

The health benefits of walking have been well known since the time of Hippocrates, who said ‘Walking is man’s best medicine’. Walking causes the body to produce endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that reduce pain and stress and increase a feeling of well-being. A Duke University study showed that clinically depressed people reported lessening of symptoms after only ten minutes of walking. The University of Illinois completed a study that showed walking leads to brain growth and improved brain function.

I don’t know about all those things. I know that when I make time to walk, to walk without an agenda, without a goal I have to check off my list and without a phone or iPod in my ears, my brain gets the space it needs to think, to ponder, to create. The only thing that stops me is me and my perceived lack of time in my schedule. What if I made the time investment for a walk and it paid back dividends of increased creativity? Where did I put my walking shoes…

More info on the walking/creativity connection:

Question: Do you walk regularly? Can you tell if it helps your creativity?

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