Much like meditation, walking forces you to slow down and allows your mind and body to move without stress. Runners may scoff at the idea of walking as “cardio” – that it’s not worth their time – but the physical and mental benefits of long – 45 minute- plus – leisurely walks cannot be overstated.
These benefits include:
- Recovery. In order to give the body time to recover and to enjoy the process of movement, it’s important for runners to move their bodies outside of regimented training runs. While this can be achieved with an easy run, most of us run our “easy” runs way too hard. By taking a long walk instead, we’re forced to slow down and allow our body to actively recover.
- Cross-training. Walking doesn’t use the same movement patterns as running, and is easier on the body, so you can use a long walk in place of an easy run or a cross-training session. While it won’t make you sweat, it will give your muscles a much-needed change of pace, strengthening connective tissues while still giving your legs a good workout.
- Relaxation. If you’re stressed or anxious, there’s nothing quite like a long walk to release tension. Walking – especially through green spaces – can put you in a meditative state, which allows you to pay attention to your environment while reflecting calmly on what is happening in your mind. Studies also show walks in nature improve memory and attention and reduce rumination – a key element of anxiety and depression.
- Discovery. Walking can help you discover things you would never see otherwise. You can really take your time to people-watch, take detours, try new roads, and experience a location at a slower pace.
- Inspiration. A Stanford study recently found walking significantly boosts creativity – both during the walk and afterwards. Walking can help you to break out of a rut, give you a new perspective, or hit you with creative inspiration even if you aren’t actively looking for it.
Once of the best parts about long walks is there are no rules. You just step out the door and see what you can find. Go fast or slow. Stop when you want to. Grab a coffee. Listen to music, or don’t. Go alone or with a friend. Go in nature or to your favorite city neighborhood. Just go.
The only important thing is that you commit to the walk. Put your phone in your pocket and take in your surroundings, the people, the sights, and sounds. Be curious and open-minded.
Trust us – it’s worth your time.
Written by Varia Makagonova.
- How meditation benefits your running (and vice versa)
- Walk this way: More pros of walking for exercise