an in-depth article from Ferris Jabr in The New Yorker I stumbled on recently pulls all this science together, digging into not only the historical connection between long walks and great ideas, but also explaining just what happens in our heads when we head out for a wander. It’s well worth a read if you want a deep dive into the subject, but here’s a quick recap of Jabr’s answer to the essential question–why is walking so good for thinking?


Jabr starts with the straightforward research demonstrating the link between an active mind and an active body. Not only does getting the heart pumping increase blood flow to the brain, but it also kicks off a host of positive changes inside our heads. […]


Beyond the benefits of any sort of mild exertion, walking has special charms for the thinker. One, apparently, is the easy rhythm of our steps. Just as the tempo of the music we’re listening to can shape our mood, the pat, pat, pat of our feet can stimulate and shape our thoughts. […]


Perhaps most powerful of all is how walking holds just some of our attention, leaving a large segment to meander and observe. It’s this doing-something-but-not-really-thinking-about-it aspect of walking that might be most directly behind the ability of a good walk to stir up creative, new ideas. […]