How Walking Boosts my Creativity

Anne Bonfert

Physical exercise for more creative ideas

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Credit: Anne Bonfert

Walking on the beach

It’s amazing how many ideas I get while walki,ng on the beach. Every time I’m out there my mind just starts going and keeps on spitting out topics. One after the other. Sometimes I wish I had a machine that would just catch all of these thoughts. Write them down immediately before I forget them.

It is nothing new to science that physical exercise boosts your work ethic. But I think the result depends on the type of exercise you do. Any type of exercise is good for your body. Obviously. If I go for a run, do a serious training session, or a difficult climb, it doesn’t matter. All of them are not just good for my physical stamina, but also help my mental strength to grow. But it doesn’t necessarily give me a lot of creative ideas. Because my mind has to focus on the movements. The actual exercise. The brain is occupied. Trying to succeed in the challenge.

Walking as a creative booster

Whilst walking doesn’t require a lot of brainwork it gives your brain freedom. Freedom for the mind. Freedom for your thoughts. It gives your brain space to clean up and solve problems. But also to shut down. It gives your brain the chance to get occupied with different topics and stories.

During the first few steps of my walk, I simply take a few deep breaths. My brain relaxes. And all my problems seem to vanish. At least for the duration of the walk.

I notice my surrounding. Feel the nature. Embrace the moment. Spread happiness.

And all of a sudden I forget why I was so stressed. And about what I was even stressing about. Stress simply disappears.

Then the moment starts where I write books in my mind. My brain starts telling stories. And they just go on and on. It can be very different stories. About society. About my life. About something, I experienced that day. About a challenge I want to take on. Or it can be a simple description of the walk I am doing. Where I am walking.

Involving the beach. The ocean. The waves. The birds. And maybe the sun.

Those are stories written in my brain.

Yes, I am privileged for living so close to the ocean.

Yes, I do love walking along the beach. But if I would move somewhere else, for example to the mountains, I would do the same. I would go for long walks. Walks in nature. Hiking somewhere in the mountains.

Alone.

Because that is the key to my creativity.

Walking alone

At maximum, I could be accompanied by dogs. Which don’t require any attention. They just have to walk with me. But at the same time walk on their own.

Silence.

I shouldn’t be talking. To anyone. Often I do forget to greet people along the way. Because I am so busy with the story in my mind. The longer I walk the longer the story becomes. And it grows. As my mood lightens it becomes better and bigger.

Capture the ideas

The moment I get back home I have to sit down immediately and start writing. Otherwise, the ideas vanish as quickly as they appeared. I don’t always do it. But I should. And in the future, I will try to be more onto it. Onto the documentation of my ideas and the stories that got created during my walks.

Other repetitive exercises

In the past, I also realized that it doesn’t just happen whilst walking. Any repetitive exercise which doesn’t require any or very little brain work brings me this creativity.

The last year I spend most of my exercise lessons in the form of swimming. Swimming in the pool. Swimming in the ocean. Because it was simply too hot for any other type of exercise in Thailand. I love swimming. And it helped me so much to shut down my brain. To relax. To get a different view of things. And while swimming I did discover my mind creating stories. During the swimming sessions. Just like during walks on the beach. Because swimming is a habit. My body knows the movements on how to keep myself over water. I don’t have to focus on my arms or legs. Or on the breathing. I can just keep on going.

Another activity I picked up in Thailand and got into it is stand up Paddling. It is so much fun. Especially on a flat ocean or calm lake. It’s so relaxing and exhausting at the same time.

And I’m totally on my own. Out there on the water. Just myself and the paddleboard.

It does relax my mind unless the wind is too strong or the waves too high so that I have to fight to stay on the board. My body got very quickly used to keeping the balance on the board and so it became a habit. Without any brain work, I could just keep on going. And creating stories in the meantime.
About the paddleboarding. About how I would love to have everyone try it at least once. About the ocean. The calm water. The mountains around me. The island. Or about life. Life lessons that I create while floating over the water.

Creativity is diverse and infinite

The creativity is infinite. As long as you allow her and don't lock her inside of you. Allow her to get out and be there. Allow her to be drawn. As a picture. As an article. As a sound. As a movement or as anything else. Creativity can have various pictures.

Creativity can be very diverse.

My creativity appears in words. After walking. Swimming. Or paddling. And maybe I will find in the future another activity that spikes my creativity in the same way.

Variety is important. In life and in your work. Important for your creativity.

Take this as an inspiration for your next walk and see what it does to you. Do you also get inspired by walks in nature?

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I am a traveler. Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Skydiving instructor. Adventure enthusiast. Nature lover. And fell in love with the African continent. My stories go around travel, nature and all kinds of adventurous activities.

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