Posted April 15th, 2024 in News

Living in such a picturesque country as the UK certainly has its benefits, namely the abundance of opportunities for breathtaking walks.

Whether exploring the rugged Yorkshire moors or strolling through the tranquil Lake District, the UK is truly a nation of walkers. In fact, data on the government website reveals that the average person made around 267 walking trips over 2022, totalling roughly 221 miles each.

While you may already be aware that walking is a fantastic way to get some exercise, a breath of fresh air, and clear your head, you may be surprised to learn that getting out on your feet can also boost your creativity.

Conveniently, May is National Walking Month, a campaign organised by the British Heart Foundation to encourage you to get out walking more and discover some fantastic routes.

So, with this in mind, continue reading to discover the fascinating connection between walking and creativity, and how nature could leave you feeling inspired.

A new study revealed that there is an intrinsic link between walking and creativity

As mentioned, the physical and mental health benefits of walking are widely known these days, with Bupa revealing that going for a stroll can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Help you maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve your sleep
  • Improve your cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduce the risk of depression.

Aside from these invaluable health benefits, recent studies have revealed an intriguing link between physical activity and creative thinking.

Indeed, the study, which was published on SpringerLink, suggests that going on a regular walk could get your brain thinking in a more creative way.

First, the study identified the fact that there are two main types of creativity.

One way, known as “convergent thinking”, involves weighing up and dealing with ideas that require a more controlled mental process, much like solving a crossword puzzle.

Meanwhile, the other, which is known as “divergent thinking”, relates to your brain’s ability to create associations between two unrelated things, such as theories about gravity after witnessing an apple falling to the ground.

Divergent thinking is often referred to as “thinking outside the box”, and the study revealed that participants exhibited more of it when they went for a walk.

By conducting various experiments with the participants, the researchers found that a bout of physical activity often led to a significantly higher creative output. In fact, they appeared to generate more innovative ideas, and displayed a higher level of creative thinking overall after a brief walk compared to when they remained sedentary.

This phenomenon occurs because physical activity that isn’t too demanding – such as going for a leisurely stroll – can induce a state of “transient hypofrontality”.

When this happens, the part of your brain that is responsible for dealing with intensive cognitive processes, such as paying attention or making decisions, is temporarily dampened.

This, in turn, helps your mind wander and allows your thoughts to “float free”, encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.

The findings of the study undoubtedly shine a light on the importance of incorporating regular movement into your daily routine, especially if you work in a creative capacity.

Spending time in nature could also help boost creative thinking

Beyond the ability to help your mind wander, nature itself that you witness during your walk can also act as a powerful catalyst for creativity.

In fact, a study published by the National Library of Medicine states that nature can enhance creativity levels, encourage new ideas, and promote flexible thinking.

What’s more, the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the great outdoors could be an invaluable source of inspiration, and it’s clear that creatives have used this throughout history.

Take Emily Bronte, for example. The famous English author often drew inspiration from the rugged Yorkshire moors. In her novel, Wuthering Heights, the landscape itself shapes the emotions and actions of the protagonist, acting much like a completely individual character.

The Yorkshire moors seemingly had an effect on many literary geniuses through history, as even Sylvia Plath reflected the bleak beauty of the area in their poem, ‘The Snowman on the Moor’.

The Lake District is another breathtaking area of natural beauty that has attracted the keen eye of poets and philosophers alike, such as William Wordsworth, who wrote his seminal poem, ‘Daffodils’, after he spotted some wildflowers growing among the dramatic valleys.

On a similar note, the landscapes of the UK have also inspired generations of artists. One of these is J.M.W. Turner, the English romantic painter who used the lush estate of the 5th Earl of Essex to create his painting, ‘Cassiobury Park: Reaping’, to convey people in harmony with nature.

Other famous artists, such as John Constable, have also used nature as a source of inspiration to create tranquil meadow scenes and tumultuous seascapes.