AMERICAN AUTHOR AND PHILOSOPHER HENRY DAVID THOREAU PUT HIS FINGER ON THE LINK BETWEEN WALKING AND GOOD THINKING WHEN HE WROTE, "ME THINKS THAT THE MOMENT MY LEGS BEGIN TO MOVE, MY THOUGHTS BEGIN TO FLOW".
It’s a discovery he shares with a wealth of other creatives throughout the ages; everyone from Dickens and Nietzsche to Wordsworth and Whitman reportedly enjoyed a stroll as a means of refreshing the mind. It’s a relationship we seem to understand instinctively: chances are you’ve been advised to ‘stretch your legs’ when up against a block in your thinking. Walking has been a way of solving problems for years.
These days, we don’t need to walk very much. As a mode of transport, it’s pretty low down on the list of methods we want to use — most of us drive, catch the bus or hop on the train to get to work. Sometimes it’s just too far, other times we don’t want to brave the rain or, worst of all, simply can’t be bothered.
For many of us, when we get to our workplace, our desk is where we remain until the end of the day. Even though lots of us enjoy walking on the weekends, or taking the dog out for an evening stroll, walking often isn’t a huge part of our working day (unless it’s to the kettle and back).
However, there’s a growing resurgence in people recognising the power of walking: not only does it keep us fit and healthy, it promotes more creative thinking.
And don’t think that you have to have Dickens’ vibrant Victorian London or Wordsworth’s picturesque Lake District to walk in to infuse your imagination; recent studies have shown that even walking on a treadmill can improve original thought and productivity (Rohrer, 2014).
Work is sometimes a back-to-back rollercoaster of deadlines, to-do lists and meetings; making time for a walk, or even your lunch, can slide right to the end of our priorities. But, taking time out, changing your scenery and having space away from your desk to relax, refuel and recharge can actually be much more productive in the long run.
Go on. Stretch your legs.
Rohrer, Finlo (2014). ‘The slow death of purposeless walking’, BBC News Magazine, [Online], http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27186709, (Accessed 01 May 2014).