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5 Reasons That Walking Is the Best Meditation

5 Reasons That Walking Is the Best Meditation

As a health and well-being writer, I am constantly searching for ways that people incorporate meditation into their lives in a practical way. By now we’ve all heard of the benefits of meditation — it can lower stress and anxiety, improve immune function, and decrease pain. Now recently, scientists are even telling us it can increase grey matter in the brain, leading to better memory function, emotional stability, and mindful behavior. In short meditation is a bit of a wonder practice — if you can make it work for you.

The problem is, not all of us can. For some of us (me included) sitting in silence focusing on your breathing just isn’t practical. Not only can it be difficult to find that inner silence you’re looking for; at times, it can be hard to find literal silence if you live in a shared house, or have children, or a partner, or a dog, or a parrot.

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So recently I went for a walk, and not just your usual walk. Actually it was a hike: six days of walking with nothing to do but just think. Well, that’s the opposite of meditation right? The principle of meditation is to silence your thoughts. The interesting thing was that my brain ran out of things to think about pretty quickly, (particularly when the going got steep and all I could concentrate on were the three steps in front of me). After a few hours of walking, it suddenly hit me like a boulder — I was meditating, and there was no crossed legs or chanting involved.

This is why walking works for me, and can for you too.

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1. It clears your mind.

Unlike guided meditation, which asks you to clear your head of all thoughts (often producing the opposite effect), walking naturally allows your mind to go quiet. While you might start your walk thinking of everything that you need to do today, or this week, after a while, the rhythm of your footfall and movement acts as a focus, allowing you to just focus on the road ahead of you. Something that helps me with this is instrumental music, ( lyrics are distracting to your brain). The combination of walking while listening to melodic music provides a sense of calm that is difficult to find elsewhere.

2. You can do it (almost) anywhere.

While regular meditation requires you to find a quiet space where you can be alone, a walk can be done anywhere (with the exception of high rise buildings and space stations). You don’t have to trek up mountains, or across barren landscape to feel the effect of walking meditation, I have had equally peaceful walks through busy cities. The important factor is to be alone with yourself, even if you’re not physically alone.

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Listen to music, but put your phone on airplane mode — don’t check your texts, emails, or social media. Allow your mind to focus only on your walk, not the destination or distractions along the way, but on the act of walking, the rhythm of your footfall, knowing that you are travelling in a direction, but not getting caught up on where that is or when you will arrive.

3. It gets your body moving.

One of my biggest frustrations when it comes to traditional meditation is that my body is restless. It wants to move, or I can feel an ache in my arm, or suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to scratch my elbow. With walking, that is all taken care of already; your body is distracted — it’s moving in a constant rhythm leaving nothing to focus on but your mind. What’s more, because endorphins —those lovely exercise hormones— are being released, it allows your mind to contemplate things in a much more positive way.

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4. It connects you with nature.

 Studies have shown that connecting to nature on a regular basis, whether that is through walking, gardening, or animal care, can improve your mood and decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. Walking is the perfect opportunity to do this. Even if you live in a city, get to a park. Even if the weather is awful, enjoy the feeling of the wind and rain on your skin. Being in nature reminds us of who we are, of our connection to the world, and can allow us to see some of our more petty problems for what they really are.

5. It gives you the distance you’ve been searching for.

Whether you’re taking a stroll in a local park, or setting off on your own personal mountain odyssey, walking gives you both physical and mental distance from whatever issues may be bothering you. Once you’ve given your mind a chance to clear, and not think for a while, it allows you to approach the issue from a fresh perspective. You can be alone with yourself, and free to think over what’s going on without distraction, or input from an outside source. You often find that you return home with a completely different head on to the one you left with — calmer, clearer, and ready to start again.

Featured photo credit: to move seasonally by aya padrón via flickr.com

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11 Truths About Depression That Everyone Should Understand 5 Reasons Why “Lonely” Seems To Be The Hardest Word (And Why We Should Be Saying It) 5 Reasons That Walking Is the Best Meditation

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Last Updated on September 4, 2020

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

There’s a lot of confusion, mystery, and desperation around how to lose fat and gain muscle. We applaud body transformation pictures we see on Instagram, Facebook, and magazine covers but are never able to replicate the results ourselves.

Well, that mystery is over because I will tell you exactly how to achieve those results in this article.

The journey to getting there is straightforward but not easy. Most people give up too early in the game, when they stop making visible progress.

Keep reading to learn how to utilize your metabolism and the laws of muscle building to lose fat and gain muscle fast.

Skyrocket Your Metabolism to Lose Fat

Learning how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time is one of the biggest misunderstandings of body transformations because they are opposite metabolic processes.

To lose fat, you must have calorie deficits each day, and to gain muscle, you must be in a caloric surplus, but you cannot do both at the same time.

When you look at pictures, it looks like it can be done simultaneously, but what is actually happening is a change in fat and muscle percentages.

If your weight stays the same through your journey, and you lose body fat, your percent of lean muscle mass automatically goes up by default. You didn’t gain any muscle, but your fat and muscle ratio percentages have shifted.

Calculating Your Calories to Lose Fat

There are many good calorie calculators out there that will give you an estimate on how much to eat to start losing fat for weight loss. You usually need to cut about 10 to 15% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calories to start the process.

You can find a visual explanation of TDEE below[1]:

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Use TDEE to learn how to lose fat and gain muscle.

    Remember that the calculators are just an estimate. It’s up to you to track your measurements and to adjust your caloric intake to ensure you’re getting the results you’re looking for.

    Metabolism calculators take into account four different ways your body burns calories to come up with your TDEE, or how many calories you burn in a day:

    • Resting metabolic rate
    • Thermic effect of food
    • Thermic effect of activity
    • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

    Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

    This is your baseline metabolism at rest, or how many calories your body needs to survive if you spent the entire day lying in bed awake.

    RMR accounts for about 60 to 75% of your total daily energy expenditure. Your RMR is mostly determined by how much you weigh.

    A heavier person has a higher RMR than a lighter person, even if the lighter person has a higher lean muscle mass, because the metabolism of muscle only contributes to about 20% of your total RMR energy expenditure[2].

    Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

    You’ve heard that to lose weight and gain muscle, you should be eating lots of protein. This is true for a number of reasons:

    • Lowers your intake of other types of foods, like processed carbs.
    • Increases satiety, so you continue to feel fuller, longer.
    • The building blocks for your muscles are found in protein.

    About 30% of the calories from protein intake are burned off during the digestion process, which includes absorption and waste removal of it. Eating more protein as opposed to other macros increases the amount of calories burned during digestion. That’s why you feel fuller with a higher protein diet.

    Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)

    The calories burned in TEA are relatively minor in your entire TDEE equation. TEA is any calories burned during official exercise, like going to the gym, doing an aerobics class, or going for a run. It covers any exercise you do outside of your normal activities.

    Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

    The calories burned in NEAT is the big game changer for most people and can vary up to 2000 calories burned per day between people with identical RMRs[3].

    For the majority of us, when we’re done with our workouts for the day, we don’t do much else for movement. We spend about an hour in the gym, and instead of using the other 15 hours awake as an opportunity to move and burn more calories, we spend it sitting.

    This is how there can be such a big difference between the amount of calories burned between two people who have the same RMR.

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    Outside of your gym workout, any additional body movements count towards burning additional calories. The quickest way to add this to your day is to make everything you do as inconvenient for yourself as possible.

    Examples of inconvenient activities that count towards NEAT include:

    • Taking the stairs versus the elevator
    • Parking farther away
    • Getting up to change the TV channel versus using the remote
    • Pacing and walking while on a phone call instead of sitting down

    Increasing your NEAT goes a long way to helping your burn calories faster, leading to quicker fat loss. For more ideas on how to make life a little more inconvenient to up your activity level, check out this article.

    The Laws of Building Muscle

    Congrats on reaching the stage where you want to tone and get some definition! Learning how to lose fat and gain muscle isn’t an easy process, so if you’ve taken it on, that’s a huge step.

    To build muscle, first you want to increase your calorie intake.

    Based on your TDEE, you want to add about 10% more calories as a starting point. This is enough calories to build muscle, and any excess can lead to fat storage if you’re not training hard enough or aren’t active enough.

    Again, be sure to track your measurements and adjust your calories if necessary.

    Second, follow a muscle-building program that you can sustain for at least 3 to 6 months.

    Consistency is key with building muscles because they need to be stimulated and broken down on a regular basis in order to build back up. You want to strength train at least twice a week for at least an hour each time to start getting results.

    Of course, more often is better but requires better planning and a more complicated body parts training plan. So, start simple if you’re a novice. It’s not necessary to train 6 times a week unless you’re training for a competition.

    Progressive Overload

    Muscle needs to be challenged in order to grow. You need to gradually and consistently increase the amount of load and volume you are lifting.

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    Load means the amount of weight you’re lifting during weight training. Up to a certain point, it becomes unrealistic to keep adding pounds to each exercise every week, at which point you need to switch exercises and work on your weaker points to break that plateau.

    However, the goal with load is to keep increasing the amount of weight you lift.

    Increasing the volume you do is another method to progressive overload. Volume means the total number of reps for that specific exercise. If you’re doing 3 sets of 12 reps, it means you’ve done a total of 36 reps.

    But increasing volume doesn’t mean doing super high reps of 20+ unless you’re training your muscle for endurance versus strength.

    You want to use a challenging weight and be able to lift more of it each week through increased reps and sets.

    Here is a visual explanation of how you can engage in progressive overload[4]:

    PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD FOR MUSCLE MASS by @jmaxfitness - Visit the link in my bio to claim your free 1-week muscle bu… | Muscle, Gain muscle, Weight training workouts

      Training Intensity

      Paying attention to what you’re doing is required if you want to lose fat and build muscle because you want to build and improve the mind-muscle connection to optimize growth.

      A healthy mind-body connection means you’re able to better feel your muscles working during each lift.

      You know you’ve picked the right weight when the last 2 to 3 reps of your intended rep range is challenging. On occasion, you want to push past the burn and muscle fatigue for the last reps.

      This little bit of pushing past the discomfort is the difference between an average body and a body with more definition. Lifting almost to failure increases muscle recruitment, metabolic stress, and anabolic recruitment to grow muscles.

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      Proper Recovery

      This is the most overlooked aspect of building muscles. We focus too much on pre/post workout meals, macro tweaking, and supplements, forgetting that we already have the ultimate tool for recovery: our own body.

      For best recovery practices, allow at least a day, but no more than 3 days of rest between workouts that stress the same muscle group. Overtraining results in diminished exercise capacity, possible injury, and illness.

      Remember, muscles are broken down in the gym and built outside of it during recovery.

      Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and be mindful of your stress levels to optimize recovery time. A lack of sleep and excess stress will spike cortisol levels, leading to hunger cravings, decrease regulation of burning fat, and cause faster aging.

      You can learn how to lower your stress levels fast here.

      Stop Program Hopping

      Every day, there is new workout, new exercise, new program on a website, in a magazine, or in your social media feed. No wonder we’re tempted to try a little bit of everything!

      Frequent program hopping stops you from getting any results.

      When you change programs too often, you don’t make progress on each exercise. It becomes hard to gauge whether you’re getting stronger or even getting results because you’re not allowing enough time for your body to adapt.

      Strength is a skill that needs to be built and developed by practicing it consistently. If you’re changing the skill set too often, you won’t know if you’re improving, and, therefore, cutting yourself short of future muscle gains.

      Conclusion

      The steps to losing fat and gaining muscle are simple, but the journey to get there is not.

      Tracking and measuring your calories is the quickest way to lose fat, along with increasing your activity level outside of the gym. Having a stronger, more toned body can be yours when you follow the laws of building muscles consistently.

      Applying these methods will guarantee that you get the results you’re after!

      More on How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

      Featured photo credit: Benjamin Klaver via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Cheat Day Design: What is TDEE?
      [2] International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Determinants of energy expenditure and fuel utilization in man: effects of body composition, age, sex, ethnicity and glucose tolerance in 916 subjects
      [3] Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: Variability in energy expenditure and its components
      [4] J Max Fitness: PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD FOR MUSCLE MASS

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