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Mind-Body Walking: Medicine for Body and Spirit
What Is Mind-Body Walking?
What Can Mind-Body Walking Do for You?
- Improve your health—Walking offers numerous physical benefits such as improving your circulation and controlling your weight.
- Reduce stress—When walking becomes a mind-body workout, the mental benefits increase. The most obvious benefit is a reduction in stress, and therefore, stress-related illnesses.
- Achieve your goals—Spirited walking also allows you to achieve what you might never have thought possible. For instance, maintaining a 3 miles per hour (mph) pace while walking can be difficult. However, if you were to repeat to yourself the mantra, "I am strong and I am fit," walking at that pace would seem easier.
- Enhance personal growth—In addition, mind-body walking may also improve your self-esteem, stimulate creativity, keep exercise from getting boring, and allow for present moment awareness.
Learning to Focus
Activities to Bring Mind and Body in Tune
- Breathing—Focus on breathing into your belly so that you feel your stomach expand. Then establish a rhythm with your steps. Consider saying "in, two, three," as you inhale and "out, two, three" as you exhale. Or count in four's if that feels more natural.
- Visualizing—Think of a major goal that you are working toward. Maybe you are writing a book or trying to lose 20 pounds. If so, walk as if you have accomplished these goals. In your mind, congratulate yourself for having met your goal or tell yourself how wonderful it feels.
- Repeating affirmations—To stop your self-talk, create a positive phrase and think of it as you walk. Say a prayer if you want. Just keep it simple, using one or two-syllable words. For example, you might recite "I am here, I am breathing" one syllable or word per step. When you do this, you will pull yourself into the present. You will also start breathing more deeply which will boost your energy. Most importantly, you will return home refreshed and invigorated.
Walk East http://walkeast.org
Walking Info.org http://www.walkinginfo.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Healthy Canadians http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca
The benefits of walking. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.startwalkingnow.org/whystart%5Fbenefits%5Fwalking.jsp. Accessed December 23, 2013.
Research points to more health benefits from walking. Harvard Medical School website. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press%5Freleases/research-points-to-even-more-health-benefits-of-walking. Published March 2011. Accessed December 23, 2013.
Walk this way. Mindful website. Available at: http://www.mindful.org/mindful-magazine/walk-this-way. Accessed December 23, 2013.
Walking as meditation. Every Body Walk! website. Available at: http://www.everybodywalk.org/read/inspiration/909-walking-as-meditation-quiet-your-mind-as-you-improve-your-health.html. Accessed December 23, 2013.
Walking reduces heart disease in people at risk. NHS Choices website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/12December/Pages/Walking-reduces-heart-disease-in-people-at-risk.aspx. Accessed December 23, 2013.
Walking for good health. Better Health Channel website. Available at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Walking%5Ffor%5Fgood%5Fhealth. Updated December 2012. Accessed December 23, 2013.
Walking mindfully. RMIT University website. Available at: http://mams.rmit.edu.au/qdqjdwrpw3wm1.pdf. Accessed December 23, 2013.
What is walking meditation? Wildmind Buddhist Meditation website. Available at: http://www.wildmind.org/walking/overview. Accessed December 23, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013
- Update Date: 12/23/2013