Boffins in the Netherlands have confirmed what freelancers who suffer from writers’ block have long suspected – that going for a walk, especially on a regular basis, does improve creative thought.
Unveiling the finding, a professor from Leiden University said it was the result of a study that set out to prove whether bodily movement can overcome lack of inspiration, as anecdotes and literature over the ages have suggested.
In fact, the university’s Prof Lorenza Colzato said she wanted to firm up inconclusive evidence that physical exercise may boost creative powers, and so set volunteers convergent and divergent-thinking tasks.
She found that those volunteers who exercised for four times a week were able to think more creatively – specifically by coming up with ways to use a pen other than for writing - than those who had more sedentary lifestyles.
To ensure the test was diverse, an accompanying task set by the professor asked volunteers who do exercise regularly and those who don’t to find a common link between three words.
Again, those participants who exercised on a regular basis outperformed on the word test when compared to those who weren’t used to exercising.
The study concluded that physical exercise trains a person’s brain to “become more flexible in finding creative solutions”, although such an edge didn’t appear to last long and was less pronounced in people of a high level of fitness.