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Today’s organizations want their teams to be innovative, creative, solve problems and generate fresh ideas. Ironically, most employees spend their day in a way that’s least likely to foster this kind of thought: they’re sitting at a chair in an office. A recent study by Stanford University researchers demonstrates that walking—when compared with sitting—increases creative output significantly.
Throughout time, artists and writers have long been known for their love of walks. And modern innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg have been obsessive walkers—even holding meetings while walking. But until now, there has been no scientific link between walking and creativity.
The researchers relied on a creativity test based on divergent thinking, the thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. Walkers came up with 60 percent more new or appropriate uses for an object compared with those sitting. And 100 percent of those who walked were able to generate at least one high-quality, novel analogy compared to 50 percent of those seated inside.
And the best part? Where you walk makes almost no difference. Initially, researchers hypothesized that walking outdoors in nature would result in superior creative output, but they found that walking around the office, taking a stroll in a busy city or even walking on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall all produce very similar results.
This tool is sure to boost work output on days when we find ourselves procrastinating. Imagine adding the walking boost to days when the creative juices are flowing steadily.