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The Creative Process and Movement

Walking—and even moving while seated—may encourage new ideas.

Using movement for creative process

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).

See also: Mindful Movement May Reduce Stress and Anxiety



Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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