Chaining yourself to a desk for hours on end, without ever taking a break while “powering” through tasks, is killing your creativity and overall productivity.
While you may think you’re accomplishing a lot during those hours sitting at your desk, studies now show that your uninterrupted working style has you missing out on enhanced cognition and creativity.
What Happens to Our Minds When We Stand Up and Move?
Though we often think of the mind and body separately, they are fully intertwined and affect each other greatly.
How we think influences the body and how we move changes how we think.
This thought is not entirely new, author Henry Thoreau was well aware of the body’s effect on the mind when he said “…the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
What Does the Research Say?
It turns out that a fluid body produces a fluid mind that displays enhanced creative thought in three aspects: creative generation, cognitive flexibility, and remote association.
Essentially, when you get up and move you are allowing the mind to think more freely and make associations that lead to more creative solutions.
Stanford researchers determined that a person’s creative output increased on average by an impressive 60% when walking compared to sitting. The positive creative flow was seen not only while walking but also shortly after returning to work.
In another study, cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato compared people who exercise regularly and those who don’t, and found that those “…people who are doing exercise on a regular basis outperform those who don’t.” The research shows that likely “…physical exercise trains your brain to become more flexible in finding creative solutions.”
How to Put the Research Into Action?
Take a 10-minute break and go for a creative thought enhancing walk.
Every couple hours get up and go for a short walk to free up your thoughts and refocus your mind. Set an alarm if find yourself missing your breaks.
Consider bringing a small notepad to capture the brilliant creative thoughts that will surely pop into your mind on your creativity walks.
Get out of the conference room and have a walking meeting instead.
Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey are all well-known for their preference for having meetings on foot. It seems they were well aware of the power of movement to facilitate thought and the exchange of ideas.
Next time a meeting comes up that doesn’t require a presentation of some sort, try holding it on a short walk outside and see how the flow of the meeting changes. You may solve some company problems you hadn’t even considered.
Move to prevent a still body from turning into a still mind.
While it’s obviously necessary to sit down and work hard if you ever hope to accomplish anything, doing so without taking regular breaks to move is not the most effective way to produce quality work you and your team will be proud of. Adding small bouts of movement throughout your day can have an impressive positive effect on your creativity and the work you produce.
Beyond increasing your creative thought, more exciting research also shows that short walks throughout the day can boost your overall health, mood, and motivation. All great reasons to get up and move!