Walking and Thinking

Natalie Houston offers us something to think about doing when we get writer’s block or have been staring at a computer screen for too long.  Here is a taste:

…To this day, if I’m at my campus office for a long stretch of time, I will go out and walk around on campus for a few minutes periodically just to reset my mind. I’m not even talking here about the physical benefits of walking, which are numerous (and some studies have suggested that repeated short exercise sessions, even of only 10 minutes, add up to overall fitness benefits). I’ve found that for me, sitting at a desk all day, especially if I’m staring at a monitor, is physically and mentally draining. A few minutes of natural light, deeper breathing, and gentle movement gives me a high quality energy boost.

Even better: if I’m mentally stuck for some reason — can’t figure out how to write the next paragraph, how to organize next week’s lecture, or how to reply to a difficult email — taking a walk and not trying to think about the answer inevitably brings me a solution. Bilateral movement like walking helps stimulate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Such movements are routinely included as part of rehabilitative therapies and are also recommended for overall physical and mental health. Since so much of my work draws upon the left hemisphere (responsible for logic and language processing), bringing my right brain back “online,” as it were, helps expand my perspective on a problem and arrive at a solution.