Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Spring has sprung. Now is a great time of the year to get those walking shoes on and explore nature. The benefits of walking on your health are huge! Some of these include:
- Insulin works better, so blood glucose levels will lower
- Leg muscles will grow stronger and leaner (which is great for metabolism)
- Your heart and lungs become more efficient
- The brain will create new memory pathways
- Your mood will become calmer while feeling invigorated
Walking has become not only an activity for the body, but also for the mind. Mindfulness is getting increased attention in scientific research for its therapeutic benefits including improvements in depression, anxiety, stress and quality of life. Put walking and mindfulness together, and you get a powerhouse of benefits.
So what is walking mindfully?
Many people think meditation requires you to sit still and quieten your thoughts, focusing on your breathing. However there are many ways you can meditate, and you may be doing it without realising. You could play an instrument, craft, sing or surf. Anything that takes your mind to that activity, and only that activity, is a form of meditation. To clear your mind from constant thoughts, even just briefly, can be powerful in improving mental health and increasing positive emotions.
Walking meditation or ‘walking mindfully’ is a great alternative if you are thinking about improving your physical and mental health. It brings the body and mind in sync, rather than on auto-pilot. Each time we switch to autopilot, our mind moves away from the present moment and therefore we lose awareness. Just think about how much of your day is done in auto-pilot!
Walking mediation means mindfully walking using meditative technique, eyes wide open, at a pace that suits you, with your attention on whichever environment you find yourself in. It requires you to observe, tune in, listen to sounds, note smells, sensations and focus on your rhythm with the soles of your feet touching the ground. It’s amazing how you feel when you bring awareness to your environment rather than being lost in your thoughts.
For more information on this topic, check out headspace. There are free guided walking meditations to get you started on your journey.
If you would like to speak with a psychologist for further advice on improving your mental health, please call 1800 177 055 and book in for a free phone consultation.