Peace of mind is something we rarely consciously connect with walking.
Most of us have been walking all our lives, never thinking about the action, we walk unconsciously.
We walk to get from one place to the next, and it is normal for us to talk, eat, think, or even read while walking. Because of this, we seldom pay attention to how we walk, the people around us, or even where we are walking.
How often have we stopped to think about walking with intention?
So, what do I mean when I say walking with intention?
Walking with intention is simply a conscious-based approaceh to walking. We are conscious of our breath, our steps, our thoughts, our feelings, and our surroundings. Simply put, when you walk with the intention you are meditating at the same time.
In other words, walking with intention means you:
- Connect more deeply with the environment
- Get out of your head
- Get to know your body
- Awareness of intention is increased
- Connect to the present moment
“We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips,” Thich Nhat Hanh teaches in his writings about mindfulness walking. “When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away, and peace and joy fill our hearts. Anyone can do it. It takes only a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy.”
As you can see, walking offers many health benefits, including easy opportunities for weight loss. Walking is one of the few activities where you can double your impact because you can use it as a formal exercise, as well as to alleviate stress and give your mind a boost.
If you’re just starting to incorporate walking into your daily routine here are some tips on how to slowly and carefully build up your endurance.
- Take the stairs. Skip the elevator and escalators. Climbing up stairs burns almost 2 calories for every 10 steps.
- Park further away. Walk or bike to work if possible. If the distance is too far or there’s no safe route, you can still choose a parking space that will enable you to squeeze in a brief hike before arriving at the office.
- Schedule work breaks. Pause every half hour to stretch and move around. You could also make it a habit to use the restrooms and copy machines on the next floor instead of the ones by your desk.
- Stand and dial. Think about how many minutes you spend talking on the phone each day. You can easily spend a lot more time on your feet if you pace around while you’re checking on your children or reaching out to clients.
Although you’ve probably been walking since you were a child, there may also be some new techniques you can pick up that will help you burn even more calories.
So, once you build up your endurance if you’re intent on losing weight and finding peace of mind through walking consider incorporating the following:
Here are some tips for walking your way to a slimmer you.
- First, talk with your doctor. Even though walking is a generally safe and low-impact activity, you may want to check with your doctor if you’ve been sedentary for a while. Your physician can help you set goals that are realistic for you.
- Speed it up. Depending on your weight, you can burn about 65 to 100 calories for each mile you walk. If you move faster, you’ll burn more calories covering the same distance.
- Vary the pace. Studies also show that interval training is an effective way to burn more calories. Alternate between periods of walking briskly and strolling at a more moderate pace.
- Check your posture. To move efficiently and avoid injuries, ensure you’re using proper form. It’s usually safer to take more steps rather than trying to lengthen your stride. Check that your heels hit the ground first, and use your toes to push you forward. Engage your core muscles to take pressure off your back.
- Use your arms. Swinging your arms will also increase the intensity. If you want to add props, try walking poles or hand weights.
- Listen to music. Playing your favorite tunes can make any workout seem like less effort. Put together a lively soundtrack that will motivate you to keep going.
- Dress comfortably. You can buy shoes designed specifically for walking or just choose any pair with low heels and firm support. Dressing in protective layers will also help you deal with cold or wet weather.
- Find a buddy. Walking with others can be fun. Invite family and friends along or join a local hiking group. If you have a dog, you have a companion who would love to join you at the park.
One last thought about walking. Always be safe!
- Carry identification.
- Remember to walk safely. If you are walking in an unfamiliar area, make sure ahead of time that it is a safe place to travel in solitude and understand that you will need to be even more aware of your surroundings in order not to get lost, or fall on uneven ground.
- Comfort. Dress appropriately for the season, and wear comfortable shoes, with reflectors if possible.
- Hands free. Carry and items such as keys, a cell phone, water. etc. in a backpack or small over-the-shoulder pouch, so your hands are free should you trip and to protect yourself.
- Let others know hen and where you are going for a walk.
- Walk facing the oncoming traffic.
- Be aware of runners and cyclists.
As you walk and become increasingly aware, your mind will grow quieter, so that you are forced to slow down — literally — and notice the trees, the bushes, the flowers, the sky, and the birds, everything surrounding you. One thing I find is I notice the resistance within me and how far short of “everyday peace” I am. That’s why every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk further away from illness just like the 19th-century Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard once claimed.
Walking is so simple but does so much for your health and fitness. In addition to burning more calories, you strengthen your muscles and condition your heart with each extra step you take. Make walking a regular part of your workout program and daily routines.
I love walking on grass and often I stop to touch trees, I enjoy this powerful connection, and somehow it seems to ‘recharge my batteries to gain some peace of mind. Walking not only reduces my stresses but, has opened me to the simple joys of living.
My philosophy is the more you walk, the better your mood, the lower your risk of depression and surprise, you lose weight, too!
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Tich Nhat Hanh
I am Donna SLam, entrepreneur, who achieves peace of mind and a healthy lifestyle by practising mindfulness and walking. Learn how I do it when you get my free guide “3 Simple Steps to Liveing Stress-Free”.
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