THE KEY TO CREATIVITY IS ON YOUR DOORSTEPReading Time
Leading obesity expert Dr James Levine warns that ‘sitting is the new smoking. [Sitting] kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.’ Sitting for long periods of time has been linked with obesity, cancers, heart complications, type 2 diabetes and more.
With the average working person in England being seated for 9.5 hours per day, we need to rethink our own work life and workplace environment to improve our physical health. But there is another reason we need to stop sitting, and that’s to do with our brains.
From Dickens to Darwin, many of the world’s greatest thinkers credit their brightest ideas to walking in nature. In fact, the New Yorker reported that William Wordsworth is estimated to have walked up to 180,000 miles in his lifetime – that’s an average of 6.5 miles per day from the age of 5! And the proof is in the pudding; Wordsworth is hailed as one of the greatest poets of all time.
And science has now backed up what people have known for centuries; as well as improving your physical health, walking outdoors can facilitate creative thinking! Studies suggest that creative output increases by an average of 60% when a person is walking, compared to sitting.
Whilst the actual act of walking is the most important thing, the environment you walk in can help too. Researchers at the University of South Carolina found that walking in natural spaces improves mental performance more than walking through man-made city streets. So, when searching for your next bright idea, you may find that heading to a park and letting your feet wander will help your mind wander too.
Many of the most successful minds today have found ways to incorporate walking into their days at work
Whilst walking like Wordsworth is unrealistic for the average 21st Century lifestyle, there are ways we can fit walking into our busy lives without quitting our jobs and moving to the middle of the Lake District. This can be as simple as getting off public transport a few stops early, parking the car a short distance from your destination or, whilst at work, taking a stroll during your lunch break. Just a short walk each day could prove hugely beneficial in getting the creative juices flowing.
Many of the most successful minds today have found ways to incorporate walking into their days at work: Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few of the many people now opting for “walking meetings”. Walking outdoors whilst discussing problems helps to remove technological distractions, enhance focus on the conversation at hand and, importantly, boost creative thinking.
For people working in creative industries, this insight is invaluable. Like us, you could head out to the country for a weekend ramble or if time is tight, for a lunch time stroll, or take the office dog for a walk, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Whatever suits your personal routine, you should find a way to get outdoors and take a stroll. You never know, your next bright idea might be just around the corner!