We all know that exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Increasing evidence shows that walking may be one of the most beneficial ways to get that daily dose of physical activity. While walking has long been shown to improve heart health and increase longevity, many people still assume that unless they are doing extremely vigorous exercise, they are not accruing major health benefits. A 2013 study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division conclusively disproved that.
In the study, researchers analyzed tens of thousands of both runners and walkers. The findings, published by the American Heart Association, found that walking was just as effective as running in lowering the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. The more people walked, the more their health benefits increased.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day or at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Although a 30 minute walk a day might be ideal, breaking it into two or three smaller segments is also very beneficial.
It now appears that walking can benefit other aspects of your life as well, such as creative thinking. A 2014 study from Stanford University showed that people are more creative when they are walking than when they are sitting still. In a series of experiments, students were asked to complete different tests of creative thinking while walking or sitting. The walkers consistently outperformed the sitters by a large margin.
Many of the most innovative minds in history seem to have known about the connection between walking and creative thinking. Beethoven was an avid walker, carrying pencil and paper with him to jot down his inspirations as he walked around Vienna. Charles Darwin actually had a gravel track installed at his home in Kent, which he would walk around as he worked on difficult problems. He would stack stones at the start of his walk and the knock them down one by one as he went round, describing the difficulty of the problem as a three, four, or five-flint problem. The American author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau also believed in the creative power of walking, saying, “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
Many modern day creative geniuses have followed suit. Steve Jobs was famous for walking the streets of Palo Alto as he worked on ideas for new products and innovations. Many other tech entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, have followed in his footsteps by conducting meetings while walking, and incorporating walking an important part of their companies’ culture.
No one knows exactly why walking makes you more creative, but it’s thought the increased blood flow to the brain is a factor. So, get out there and walk because whether you’re looking for a healthier heart or a stroke of brilliance, walking can be a great way to get the blood pumping and lead you down a path of new ideas.