It is often said that walking (or other exercises) can increase, among other things, your creativity. I’ve never been much of a walker, but I thought I’d look into it.
I found several articles that spoke of studies that were done showing that brain deterioration was combatted by walking, cognitive functions were improved, and memory became better after as little as a fifteen minute walk.
The reason for this might be a number of things. Firstly, muscles and the brain have an intricate relationship through the connection of the nerves that send signals to the neurons in the muscles to let them contract. So perhaps excessive usage of the muscles will lead to better communication between the brain and the muscles and thus more stimulation for the neurons in the brain. Secondly, when you exercise, your body releases endorphins and serotonin that is natural pain and stress removers. I’m sure there are a number of other things that could contribute, but I’m no brain scientist.
The question is, of course, does it actually help creativity? Many, many people say that it does. They swear by walking if they have a block. One author, Henry David Thoreau, even said “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
The endorphins and serotonin can definitely help, since it can relax us and let us clear our heads of worries about other things—a prime reason for blocks in the first place.
Another important thing is the active meditation involved in exercise. Most people picture a monk sitting cross-legged and humming when they hear the word meditation, but running or walking (or any other exercise) can be meditation too. By concentrating on the exercise or some part of it, you essentially clear the mind of other thoughts and thus the exercise becomes your anchor (sitting meditation often uses a mantra as an anchor; a thought to fix your mind to). Specifically in running, it is somewhat important to control your breathing, so if you count seconds for each breath, you will distract yourself so much that you will essentially be meditating.
Whether it actually improves creativity or not (the consensus seems to be yes), it cannot hurt to try. It’s a healthy habit and getting out and seeing things might not be a bad way to hunt inspiration.