5.1.2 Watch the video

Watch the video ‘Want to be more creative? Go for a walk’.

When trying to come up with a new idea, we all have times when we get stuck. But according to research by behavioural and learning scientist Marily Oppezzo, getting up and going for a walk might be all it takes to get your creative juices flowing. In this fun, fast talk, she explains how walking could help you get the most out of your next brainstorm.


So the creative process, you know, this from the first idea to the final product is a long process. It’s super iterative, lots of refinement, blood, sweat, tears and years. And we’re not saying you’re gonna go out for a walk and come back with the Sistine Chapel in your left hand. Right? So what frame of the creative process did we focus on just this first part, just brainstorming, coming up with a new idea. So we actually ran four studies with a variety of people, you were either walking indoors or outdoors. And we all found the same all of these studies on the same conclusion, I’m only going to tell you about one of them today. So one of the tests we use for creativity was alternate uses. And this test, you have four minutes, and your job is to come up with as many other ways to use common everyday objects as you can think of. So for example, what else would you do with a key other than to use it for opening up a lock? Clearly, you could use it as a third eyeball for a draft, right? Maybe that’s sort of interesting, kind of new, but is it creative. So people came up with as many ideas as they could, and we had to decide is this creative or not. So the definition of creativity that a lot of people go with is appropriate novelty. So for something to be appropriate has to be realistic. So unfortunately, you can’t use a key as an eyeball, boo. But novel is the second thing is that nobody had to have set it. So for us novelty, it had to be appropriate first, and then for novelty, nobody else in the entire population that we surveyed could have set it. So you might think you could use a key to scratch somebody’s car. But if somebody else did that, you didn’t get credit for it. And if you did, however, only one person said this, if you were dying, and we’re murder, murder mystery, and you had to carve the name of the murder into the ground with your dying words. So one person said this. And it’s a creative idea, because it’s appropriate, and it’s novel.

So you either did this test and came up with ideas while you were seated, or while you were walking on a treadmill. They did the test twice with different objects, three groups, the first group set first, and then set again, for the second test, the second group set first, and then did the second test while walking on a treadmill. The third group, and this is interesting, they walked on the treadmill first, and then they sat. Okay, so the two groups that sat together for the first test, they looked pretty similar to each other. And they averaged about 20 creative ideas per person, the group that was walking on the treadmill, did almost twice as well. And they were just walking on a treadmill in a windowless room. So remember, they took the test twice, the people who sat twice for that second test, they didn’t get any better. Practice didn’t help. But the same people who were sitting and then went on the treadmill got a boost from walking. Here’s the interesting thing. The people who are walking on the treadmill still had a residue effect of the walking, and they were still creative afterwards. So the implication of this is that you should go for a walk before your next big meeting, and just start brainstorming right away. So we have five tips for you that will help make this the best effects possible. So first, you want to pick a problem or topic to brainstorm. So this is not the shower effect. This is not when you’re in the shower, and all of a sudden a new idea pops out of the shampoo bottle. This is something you’re thinking about head of time. And they’re intentionally thinking about brainstorming a different perspective on the walk. Secondly, I get asked this a lot. Is this okay, while running? Well, the answer for me is that if I were running, the only new idea I would have would be to stop running. So but if running for you is a comfortable pace, good. So it turns out whatever physical activity is not taking a lot of attention. So just walking at a comfortable pace is a good choice. Also, you want to come up with as many ideas as you can. So one key of creativity is to not lock on that first idea. keep going keep coming up with new ones. And until you pick one or two to pursue.

You might worry that you don’t want to write them down because what if you will forget them. So the idea here is to speak them everybody was speaking their new idea. So you can put your headphones on and record through your phone, and then just pretend you’re having a creative conversation, right? Because the act of writing your idea down is already a filter, you’re going to be like is this good enough to write down and then you write it down. So just speak as much as many as you can and record them and think about Then later. And finally, don’t do this forever, right? If you’re on the walk and that idea is not coming to you come back to it later at another time. So I think we’re coming up on a break right now. So I have an idea. Why don’t you grab a leash and take your thoughts for a walk. Thank you.