Visitors to Steve Jobs’ Palo Alto home or Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, were all too familiar with a habit that helped the Apple founder collect his thoughts and develop new ideas.

Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson didn’t know it when he first met Jobs, but he soon learned that Jobs would prefer to have serious conversations on long walks and so the most widely read biography of the Apple founder came about largely on walks. Jobs and chief designer Jony Ive were also frequently seen brainstorming on the Apple campus. Who knows, perhaps it was on these walks that the idea of the iPhone was born?


Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama are other well-known proponents of the “Walking Meeting

In the meantime, the evidence from neuroscientific studies on this topic has accumulated and shows why Jobs had a good reason to go. Walking really awakens our creativity.

Let the “Genius Lounge” of your brain search for new solutions.

In the book “The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking”, authors Olivia Fox Cabana and Judah Pollack quote recent studies showing that groundbreaking ideas occur when the brain can switch between two modes — the “executive network” and the “default network”.

While the executive part of our brain is task and goal oriented, the other network — the “Genius Lounge” — enables us to brainstorm creatively. The two work together. The management network sets a goal or identifies a problem and performs other tasks, while the default network provides creative solutions.

According to the study, a walk is the best way to trigger collaboration between the two modes and unleash your most creative ideas. “If we had to choose a single thoughtless activity for you, it would be walking,” Cabana and Pollack conclude in their book.

According to a Stanford study, walking increased a person’s creative performance by 60 percent, regardless of whether the activity took place outside or inside. The subjects received “Divergent Thinking” tests, which are used to measure “creativity”. They were asked to think about alternative uses for a particular object and had four minutes to work out their answers. The answers were classified as “novel” if the other participants in the group had not thought of the idea.

The Stanford researchers then compared the results of the test subjects walking and sitting. The majority of the participants were much more creative when walking. Movement was the key. “Walking itself and not the environment was the main factor,” said the Stanford study.

Florence Williams prefers to go outside. The author of The Nature Fix and Outside Editor writes: “We benefit cognitively and psychologically from walking past trees, bodies of water and green spaces.” She also quotes research that shows that the default network of our brain is the key to more creativity. According to Williams, it is the part of our brain that “roams freely, dreams and wanders”.

Our ancestors walked 20.000 steps per day

All the time. According to John Medina, a biologist at the University of Washington, “From an evolutionary point of view, our brains developed during movement and we walked up to 17 kilometers a day. The brain still yearns for this experience. “

In a study in the American Journal of Human Biology, Yale researchers say that our brain could only evolve through exercise, as exercise is also essential for our cardiovascular health.

So maybe your office chair is to blame if you brood over a problem longer than necessary and get moving. There may be a groundbreaking idea waiting for you in the Genius Lounge of your brain.

Walk the Talk

Walking while working made by Walkolution.

Walkolution develops revolutionary solutions, which help organizations to ignite new potentials with movement and to inspire satisfied and healthy employees.

Eric Söhngen, M.D., Ph.D.

Written by Eric Söhngen, M.D., Ph.D.

Eric is Founder and CEO at Germany based treadmill desk manufacturer Walkolution.