Get Moving

Your brain is more creative when your body is moving. Here’s how to incorporate movement in your brainstorming.

Wendy Ruyle 7.31.2018

Did you ever notice how your head clears out and solutions to problems pop up after a walk, run, or other workout?

Physical movement causes more blood flow to the brain which means more oxygen which makes our brains work better. A study from Stanford University found subjects produced 60 percent more creative ideas when walking than when sitting. So, when you need some fresh ideas try to include movement in your brainstorming process. Here’s how.

Stand up

Standing desks are more and more popular these days, but you don’t need a fancy set up to just stand up periodically during your day. Have meetings at a counter height surface instead of at a conference room table. I stand up when I’m on the phone as a way to break up my sitting. Make it acceptable to pace around in meetings.

Walk and talk

If your brainstorming group is small enough, take a walk around your office or campus and discuss your problem. Pretend you are on “The West Wing.” This has the added benefit of running into someone else who might have a different perspective on the issue.

All rise

When you have a big group, build in activities that get people moving around. Throw a ball around. Whoever catches it has to throw out an idea. Change out who scribes on the whiteboard so everyone gets some movement time. Break into groups and trade chairs several times during any meeting lasting more than an hour. Get up and take closer looks at what’s been documented around the room. A new viewing point may be the boost you need to have a breakthrough.

Work it out

Make sure to build in enough time in your brainstorming process that you can let things percolate. Use that time to get in a few workouts. State your problem to yourself in your head before you get started. Then let your mind go and see what comes out.

Remember that not all tasks are better done while moving. If you need to focus on something like proofreading or crunching numbers, it’s best to sit down without distraction. Additionally, make sure whatever activities you have planned, your participants are physically able to do them and are dressed appropriately for the tasks. No one wants to walk and talk in 4-inch heels or trek outside in the cold without a coat. Make reasonable accommodations so everyone can join the conversation.

Now get moving!

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