Solvitur Ambulando: “it is solved by walking”

Like many others, I like the thinking time that walking gives me.  If I have meetings in different locations in town I always try to schedule things so I can walk from one meeting to the next – it gives me a chance to mull things over from the previous meeting, or marshal my thoughts for the next one, or just let my mind wander.  All of these are useful in my work.

Recent research at Stanford has shown that walking improves creative thinking, during and for a while after the walk.  And what’s really interesting is that doesn’t make a difference whether you’re walking in lovely countryside, or on a treadmill staring at a blank wall – it seems to be the physical action itself, rather than the environment.

The Latin saying solvitur ambulando literally means ‘it is solved by walking’ – or more figuratively, solved by doing a practical experiment.  It refers to the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, who listened to another philosopher trying to argue that motion is unreal; Diogenes expertly summed up his argument against this by walking away!

While the phrase is now used figuratively to say that some sort of practical action will lead to the answer, I’ve lost count of the number of times that solvitur ambulando has literally been the answer for me.  So I’m going to continue my habit of walking around city centres between meetings, and spending weekends hiking up hills and mountains.  See you there?

2014-09-24 10.32.47

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