Walk and Write at the Same Time

My exercise research suggests our brains work better when we walk. Here’s one way to combine walking and writing:

While working on a paper, which was most of the time, [Niels] Bohr would select an assistant from among the young physicists in Copenhagen. The assistant, affectionately dubbed the victim, was supposed to sit in place while Bohr paced around the room, constantly puffing away at his pip, working and reworking his ideas, talking aloud as the idea took shape, trying and retrying to dictate his sentences to the victim.

From Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics by Gino Segre.

The modern version may be use of word recognition software with the computer screen on a wall or large TV. You walk back and forth in front of it. I have spent a lot of time writing while walking on a treadmill but it was noisy and tiring. Moreover, it was hard to start and stop and it was monotonous.

3 Replies to “Walk and Write at the Same Time”

  1. I find a lot of truth in the walking while having ideas. I think most people do. I have gone through several PDAs and always come back to the little paper notebook.

    There is another place where my brain works real fast and efficiently: Planes. Being stuck in a plane for 10 hours has consistently provided me a pretty good brainstorming session. I don’t know if it is the surrounding, the air/atmospheric pressure, no internet, constant cooling or something else (like having to watch the seat in front of me something akin to your face studies). I have also noticed that ideas generated during those “sessions” generally are of different quality (more far reaching) than the ones I would have had on the ground. I wonder if I am the only one.


  2. Interesting. I got a LG eNv, which has a full QWERTY keyboard, so I could type up ideas on the go and send myself cut and pastable notes. I’ve done some composing on the run and come up with good ideas, but I need to work on my peripheral vision so I don’t end up as a brilliant pancake.

  3. To do the voice recognition thing, you’d have to wear a wireless headset. Any room microphone would have to be quite expensive to have a low enough self-noise, and even then the background noise would be very confusing to modern speech-to-text algorithms.

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