Walking is beautiful. It allows us to explore, to be free, to survive. Sadly, most of the time, we only see walking as a way to transfer our body from one location to another. But have you ever thought about how amazing it is that we are able to walk?! Unconsciously, using brain patterns and muscle memory, we bring our legs to complex movements to carry the rest of the body around. We are taking it for granted that we acquired this amazing skill as a little child. But when we realise the beauty of our body managing to transport us, we can see the self-love that comes with it. We can see that a seemingly pointless walk to get back home, while it’s probably way faster to go by car, again is not pointless at all.

Walking as a habit

At the Mindfulness Project, we honor our daily schedule, providing the routine to practice a healthy and conscious lifestyle. For us, that routine includes a daily morning yoga and meditation practice. But as everything in life, no size fits all, no practice fits all. Every day we wake up as a different person. And then it is great to have different options. It is not self-love if you force yourself into doing yoga while your body tells you otherwise. 

Going for a walk is a great option for those days that you feel less powerful. Where you feel your mind bubbling with thoughts, outrunning your body’s energy. Bring balance in your body by treating yourself with a walk.

Health benefits of walking

Walking upright is one of the basic human skills that gave us benefits over other species. Our bodies evolved with it and walking was (and still should be) a big part of our daily activity. No wonder that it is vital to keep ourselves in balance, and has so many health benefits:

Increases your energy: Especially if you walk outdoors. A study from Western University found that a 20 minute walk could boost your energy as much as having a coffee. So remember, being tired is no excuse for not walking, it should be a reason to go walking. 

Improves your mood: Get yourself a ‘walkers-high’ by going for a moderate walk. Endorphins, better known as the ‘happiness hormones’, get produced in your brain after exercise, giving you the feeling of euphoria. It is said that walking may lift your mood even more than running.

Improves sleep at night: Walking during the day brings balance in the energy levels of your mind and body. A study from Tokyo University showed that adults aged around 60 who were experiencing difficulties sleeping, increased their sleep quality with exercise during the day.

Brings mental clarity: As walking is a simple and repetitive task, your mind calms down and  gets the chance to switch to its default mode, quieting the other activities it is usually focusing on. This creates space for the mind to be open for new ideas and to become creative.

Aids digestion and improves blood sugar levels: As soon as your body starts moving, your inside world starts moving as well, aiding your digestion. Be ahead of the energy dip following your meal. Have a walk to keep your energy up and meanwhile help your body to digest. 


Tips to actually go for a daily walk

All impressive and promising benefits, but how do we actually go for a walk. What if you just cannot convince yourself that the reward will follow later. Some tips to help you on the way…

Plan the walk: For a walk in the morning, go to bed 30 minutes earlier and set your alarm 30 minutes earlier, to give yourself time for your beautiful morning activity. If you plan to do it in the afternoon, combine it with your work commute and just make it part of your schedule. 

Prepare to support yourself later: While in an active and positive mood, prepare to help yourself at the moment you need it. For example, if you plan to go for a morning walk, put your clothes ready the evening before. And if you know that your main excuse is that the weather is not suiting, get yourself a proper raincoat.

Involve others: For more motivation, invite a friend to join you on the walk. Let your dog persuade you to take him or her for a walk. Walk to your favorite park to see the flowers grow taller each day. Or visit a friend or family member in your neighborhood during the walk to say hi.

Vary the length based on your mood: If you planned to go for a morning walk, go for at least a 5 minute walk and feel proud of that. And then see, maybe once you are out, you may want to extend it to 30 minutes.

Use technology: Use an app like ‘Map My Walk’, ‘Google Fit’ to log your daily walk and connect with others. Also, convert your steps into money with apps like ‘Charity Miles’ that donates to a charity for each kilometer you walk.


Walking mindfulness practices

So, you did it. You started your walk, ready to overload yourself with love. Now the best part starts, harvesting all the beauty that is there for you to grasp. It is tempting to dwell your mind on your phone or in dreams. Mind the gap that your mind is creating for you. Longing to be back home. Use the following practices to go deeper on your walk…

Sync your steps with your breath: To focus your thoughts and occupy your mind, sync your steps with your breath. Count the number of steps you make for each breath. Make it into a game to count how many steps you can focus on before your mind wanders, and when it does, just notice, and bring it back to your breath and your steps.

Repeat a mantra: Mantras have the power to calm your mind. To bring you in the present moment. Use a mantra like ‘I love my legs, they support me and hold me’ as a positive affirmation. Or ‘I walk, so I walk’, to keep reminding yourself that there is only one thing you need to focus on right now.

Cultivate open awareness: Allow all your sensual inputs to come in as they are. Without judging, just noticing. Feel your feet touching the ground. Feel the air touching your skin. Hear the sound of your environment.

Go barefoot: Walk like the monks in Thailand and leave your shoes at home. Even better on a dirt road as microbes on your skin mingling with the microbes of the soil produce the love hormone oxytocin.

walking barefoot

Now is the time

If you were waiting for a sign to start walking daily, this is it. Get those walking shoes out and why not go for a walk right now? As you had time to read this blog post, you will probably have time to go for a walk!