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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 might 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.
- Awareness—Tune into your environment. Take note of the weather, how your body feels, or any memories you experience on your walk. How does your body move? What kind of mood are you in? Focus on working with the environment around you and make sure you stay in the moment during your walk.
- 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.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
- Review Date: 08/2017
- Update Date: 09/24/2015