Mind-Body Walking: Medicine for Body and Spirit

IMAGE Stress follows you everywhere, even into your workouts, and its voice is powerful. It reminds you how much stuff you have to do and how many things you have been putting off. It drags your body down and makes you feel sluggish, convincing you that your workout is hard. If only you could dump your stress and take a break. Your plate is too loaded, though. Time is precious. However, you can combine a workout for your body with a workout for your mind by mind-body walking.

Nothing New

Henry David Thoreau was aware of mind-body walking more than 100 years ago when he wrote, "I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit."Mind-body walking is exercise with an internal component. That could mean focusing on breathing while strength training or listening to the rhythm of the water while swimming. Walking just happens to provide one of the greatest vehicles for melding mind with body.

What Is Mind-Body Walking?

Mind-body walking is something you are probably not used to doing. If you are like most people, your mind never stops doing chores, even when you exercise. You know all too well how high you have loaded your plate, and so while you are exercising, thoughts clang in your head. Mind-body walking means becoming aware of these thoughts and choosing to stop them.

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.

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