The Creative Process and Movement
Walking—and even moving while seated—may encourage new ideas.
Walking as a pastime has long been associated with the creative process. Researchers from University of Würzburg in Germany investigated whether or not they could elicit the same creative results from seated movement. They found that it wasn’t the amount of movement, but rather whether the movement was free and unrestricted that contributed to more creative idea generation. Investigators suggest that the moderate amount of attentional focus required for free movement tasks relaxes “top-down” control that can influence creative problem-solving or idea generation. When movement is more restricted, it requires more attentional focus that can then inhibit creativity.
Study authors note that the increase in online learning and requirements for more restricted movement while fixating on a computer screen may have an inhibitory effect on the creative process and, therefore, they encourage free movement breaks.
The research is reported in Psychological Research (2022; doi:10.1007/s00426-021-01636-w).