Some years ago, I noticed that whenever I went for a long walk, I had clever ideas to deal with professional or personal situations. I could feel the creativity flow in my head, but without understanding why I felt so sharp. It seemed I had more clarity to analyze facts and to come up with plans to do what I needed to do. It was just natural.
This brainstorming in my head became a practice, and in the middle of these long walks, I started to write these new ideas, insights, and thoughts on my notes app so that I could develop them a bit more later.
After some time without going for walks, I decided to go for a long bike ride one of these days and guess what? I got into that state again, where I could see things clearly, and some ideas popped up in my head out of the blue. I felt amazed by the things I thought and decided to research the topic. I assumed it was impossible to be the only human being passing through these mind trips while exercising. I discovered some cool stuff.
What if I tell you that Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Aristotle were avid walkers, because of the same reason I just told you? Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
So, what is the phenomenon that happens when you walk?
When you are walking, your heart pumps faster than usual, and it makes your body circulates more oxygen and blood to the organs, including your brain. Some experiments have shown that during or after exercises, people perform better on memory and attention tests. There is an entire article from The New Yorker here, describing some other interesting facts about walking and thinking.
Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz, from Stanford University, ran an experiment that is likely the first set of studies that directly measure the way walking changes creativity in the moment.
The place you go for a walk matters as well, some studies have shown that if you are exercising in a place full of trees, your memory has a better performance than if you are walking in the streets of a city.
How fantastic is that? In the end, I was not tripping, the thing is real.
Go for a walk.