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Walking and Creativity

January 8, 2017

Have you ever noticed or thought about the connection between walking and creativity?

 

I've noticed it, but I hadn't really thought about it until watching a recent StarTalk episode in which Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke with Terry Crews. Their conversation covered many topics, including nutrition, body-building, science, and sci-fi. I enjoyed all of it, and I loved hearing how Crews enjoyed sci-fi because it helped him imagine what might be possible.

But my other favorite part - and more relevant to this blog - was the discussion of how walking and creativity are linked.


Terry Crews said that he gets his best ideas when exercising. But it can't be anything too intensive. It has to be moderate enough that he has some energy and focus left for thinking as well - and walking is perfect or that. Additionally, Tyson spoke with someone who has done research on this, and the results support this connection.

I know this to be true for me personally as well, I think for a few reasons.

One is that when I go for walks or moderate hikes, I'm outside, and in best-case scenarios in places where I have access to some amount of nature. At the very least, I can see the sky, clouds, and perhaps some birds. The natural world always opens me up, helps give me perspective and wonder, which is a wellspring of creativity.

Additionally, this can help get me away from the easy distractions of our daily world. This is admittedly only true if I'm not in a city area where there's lots of advertisements and traffic and people - although even then, I might see something that makes me curious. But generally, since I'm not using my smartphone while walking (except maybe GPS), it gets me away from e-mail, Facebook, Netflix, work, etc. I can focus more on being.

Along with that, if I'm out walking, I don't generally feel like I need to be doing something else, i.e., being "productive". I realize some people are able to sit and be, but I often struggle with that. If I'm moving, I can often fall into a meditative, reflective state, which allows ideas to percolate and slowly bubble up. This is much harder on a daily basis, when we so rarely have time to focus and do any kind of deep thinking.

All of which is to say, for me, and it sounds like others, walking is not something do solely out of a desire to get in 10,000 steps. Of course it will help with that, but I consider that more of a side benefit. For me, the real value of these walks or hikes is to integrate body, mind and spirit, allow time for quiet, reflection, and being, and open myself to both inner and outer worlds.

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