Oxygen improves thinking.
Walking does more than work the area below your neck, it has many cognitive benefits as well. Blood pressure and blood flow increase in the body and the brain. More blood means more energy and oxygen, which makes the brain perform better. Especially relevant to grey hikers are recent studies that indicate exercising can actually reverse shrinkage in parts of the brain. Consequently this leads to a memory boost in older adults. Our “hunter gatherer” ancestors were probably fleeing a predator or chasing their next meal. Extra blood flow to the brain helped them react quickly to any impending threat, or to kill prey that was critical to their survival. Opposite to us who spend the majority of our time sitting down, or doing very little sustained exercise.
How can I get more oxygen to my brain? We all know our bodies need attention in order to grow and be healthy. This means we need a good diet and exercise, but what about our brain? What does it need to be able to grow, to heal and to learn in the best way it can? Walk for an immediate dose of oxygen for your brain, a low intensity activity like walking effectively oxygenates your brain. Without expending oxygen on other parts of the body. The key is to breathe from your abdomen in a relaxed way. Breathe through your nose and not your mouth under normal conditions. Forced walking or running may be good for you too. But it causes your muscles to absorb much more of the oxygen in your system and that can hinder your thinking process.
The prime goal is to normalize breathing and body oxygenation. Normal breathing is invisible and inaudible also light and relaxed. We take a tiny or small inhalation and immediately relax for a longer exhalation then take a small inhalation again. Normal breathing provides the body with superior oxygenation, so the brain is getting it’s fair share. Creative thinking tests on subjects while seated and while walking found the walkers thought more creatively. Walking of course offers infinite chances for engagement with the outside world. If you see a beautiful flower and decide to stop and smell it, you can. Or if you see a side track hidden behind the trees. It’s time to explore with curiosity, it’s all about engagement, relaxation and bringing more presence to the moment.
Normal breathing coupled with backward walking interestingly makes your heart rate rise higher than it does walking forwards at the same pace. Which suggests that you get greater cardiovascular benefits in a shorter period of time. There appears to be benefits for our brain too. Walking backwards obviously sharpens your thinking skills and enhances cognitive control. Backward walking is a physical activity also quite passive. It’s also a movement that requires brain activity that may help you stay mentally sharp. Your senses are put into overdrive as you move in an unfamiliar way, oxygen levels are stimulated in the brain as a result. I can’t see it catching on, but it could open up some interesting possibilities. Try these more formal ideas for creative thinking.
Oxygen for creative thinking.
1 Walk away from your desk, in doing this you walk away from your phone, fax and e-mail. Don’t take them with you.
2 Use a digital handheld recorder. The recorder not only captures your ideas, but also the level of energy and passion behind them.
3 Prepare before you go. Decide beforehand the topic or project your going to work on. This helps you stay focused.
4 Don’t combine your creative thinking walk with other errands, that will distract you.
5 Vary your trails, the stimulation of different scenery can only enhance your creative thinking process.
6 Pick a pace that works best for your creative process. For some of us it’s walking slowly and methodically thinking things through. For others it’s a fast pace that helps more.
7 Try to stay away from high traffic areas, street noise and distractions take away from the thinking process.
8 If you have a dog or dogs then you get to walk twice a day. You can’t get caught up in their digging or interaction with other dogs.
9 Dress appropriately and comfortably.
10 My personal favorite, walking in the rain, this is where my creative juices really start to flow.
There are many other methods that can be used to stimulate the creative thinking process, hopefully some of these ideas may possibly work for you.