It’s something that many of us have experienced on a personal level and now the science is in – there is a deep, intrinsic connection between walking and the way we think.
Recent studies out of Stanford University have measured how levels of creativity increase when subjects were walking.The research shows that when we increase our physical activity, we experience a spike in certain neurotransmitters that smooth out brain function and create a more open and creative mindset.
What’s more, the studies confirm that whilst walking we can also attain a heightened state of consciousness, sometimes called ‘flow’. The technical term for this is ‘transient hypofrontality’, which refers to a temporary reduction of stimulation in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part involved in the creation of our sense of self.
To put this in laymen’s terms, when we’re having a great walk, we start to lose ourselves – in a good way. This is because our brains, like our bodies, have developed to function in particular ways when we walk.
Fundmentally, physical activity forces the brain to redistribute brain resources (a process known as down-regulation). So if you’re on a walk in a beautiful environment, your mind lets go and you may experience an alteration in consciousness.
All of that – the extra creativity, the calmer mind, the loosened sense of self – is why so many great thinkers, artists and leaders talk about having great ideas when they’re out for a walk.
Think Virginia Woolf, Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Jane Austen, Mozart, Steve Jobs, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad, to name a few.
And the list of famous walking aficionados keeps growing. In a recent podcast by Prince William for the Apple Fitness+ Time to Walk series, he shared that walking is for him, “A key part of how I manage my mental health.” Prince William has realized what science is now proving, that walking is one of the most effective ways to improve our state of mind. Given all of the evidence, isn’t it time you took a walk?
Walkers on the Emerald Way, Sydney
ABOUT URBAN WALKS
Urban Walks offers a variety of premium, guided, all-inclusive, small group walks around the Sydney coastline. Find out more at https://urbanwalks.com.au/