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Walk Now! Write More by Rochelle Melander

Rochelle walks the labyrinth in West Bend, WI

Rochelle walks the labyrinth in West Bend, WI

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. —Friedrich Nietzche

Now that spring has arrived in Wisconsin—finally!—I’m walking more. In addition to my daily exercise, I take tiny walking breaks. In Write-A-Thon, I wrote about a study that showed that women who walked had better brain connectivity.  But that’s not all! Recent research suggests that walking boosts creativity, improves concentration, and restores our ability to pay attention. Wow! Read on…

Walking boosts creativity. In late April, the American Psychological Association released a study on the creative benefits of walking (published in APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.) While at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, Marily Oppezzo, PhD, and colleague Daniel L. Schwartz, PhD, did a number of studies that found students who walked performed better on tests that measure creativity, especially free-flowing thoughts. They did less well on tests that required a single answer.

Walking improves concentration. A study by Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances Kuo measured how walking in three different environments—nature, urban, and residential—affected children with ADHD. The children who walked in nature did the best on tests of concentration (almost as well as their peers without ADHD). (Journal of Attention Disorders OnlineFirst).

Walking restores attention. A study by Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan at the University of Michigan found that walking in nature can restore our ability to pay attention, something that usually diminishes throughout the day. For urban dwellers, it takes more than walking around outside—since paying attention to street and sidewalk traffic uses up more attention. Instead, head to a park for your walk.

So how do you use walking to jumpstart your writing? Here’s advice from my Write-a-Thon book:

*If you’re already walking or exercising, write for 20-30 minutes right afterwards.

*Take a ten-minute walk before you write.

*Take a ten-minute walk every time you experience writer’s block.

*Take a ten-minute walk as a transition between writing projects.

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