05/08/2014 02:47 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2014

The Easiest Way to Boost Creativity

As a magazine editor, I work with words daily, but that doesn't mean they come easily all the time. But I'm not one of those people who, when stuck on a coverline or title, digs in and works nonstop until it comes out right.

Instead, I go for a run. Or a brisk walk around the block. Or whatever I have time for on that particular day. I've found that even 15 minutes of exercise reboots my brain and allows me to approach my work with a fresh perspective.

So when our June cover star, Alison Sweeney, told us she uses this same trick to fuel her novel writing, I knew that I'd found a kindred spirit. Well, now Alison and I have research to back up our secret creativity booster. A recent study found that walking may be the key to creative thinking. After conducting a number of experiments with study participants (sitting then walking, walking then sitting, sitting followed by another period of sitting, etc.), researchers found that the simple act of walking at a comfortable pace for a brief interval -- about 8 to 10 minutes -- produced more creative thoughts, across the board, compared to sitting. In one of the experiments, the average increase in creative output was 60 percent when participants strolled vs. staying put. That's quite a difference!

And here's my favorite finding: The effects of the walk lingered even after participants were done strolling. In one test, researchers analyzed the creative scores of individuals while walking, and then again while sitting after their walk. The results? Seated creativity was much higher in the walkers than those who didn't go for a walk at all. The study authors note that this finding has a very practical application, which is that taking a walk immediately before -- or during -- a brainstorming session should help improve one's performance.

You can pick up the June issue of Woman's Day (on sale May 13) for more of Alison's stay-healthy tips as well as a 15-minute, no-gym-needed walking plan. And tell me: What do you do when you're in a creative slump? How do you get your juices flowing?