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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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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

As you grow older, it becomes hard to balance and have stability in your joints if you’re not engaging in leg toning workouts. You start losing muscle mass, strength, and function over time. Furthermore, if you’re physically inactive, you’ll lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass each decade after age 30.

Thankfully, you can still score your strongest legs ever with the help of leg toning workouts. Strong legs help you support your body better and make you more attractive. Also, they are less susceptible to injuries.

The best part? You don’t need fancy and expensive gym equipment to fire up those leg muscles. You can do that right at home.

Ready to get strong? Here are the best at-home leg toning workout moves for women.

1. Bodyweight Squats

    The squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises. It’s an amazing way to tone your legs. Not only does it help you build lean muscle, but it also works your abs, butt, and hips. Also, if you’re suffering from back pain, it’s a great option as it doesn’t strain your back when done right. To do a squat:

    • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
    • Bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
    • Pause for a moment and push yourself back to your original position.
    • Repeat.

    For extra support, consider doing this near a wall. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps twice or thrice a week.

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    2. Forward Lunges

      When it comes to strength training, lunges are one of the most popular choices. It strengthens your legs while improving mobility and stability. Lunges also sculpt your butt and abs. What’s more, it can also help improve your posture. In order to do forward lunges properly:

      • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart.
      • Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body into a lunge until both knees are bent 90 degrees.
      • If possible, lightly touch the floor with your left knee.
      • Push off on your front foot to bring yourself to the starting position.
      • Repeat on the other side.

      Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each leg. You can also do it without dumbbells if you’re just getting started.

      3. Single-Leg Deadlift

        Single-leg deadlifts targets all the major muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and even your core. It develops strength, balance, and stability. Another advantage of doing single-leg deadlifts is that it improves mobility through the legs and hips. To do a single-leg deadlift:

        • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
        • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the front of your thighs.
        • Lean forward and shift your weight on the left leg with your right leg extended slightly behind you.
        • Lift your extended right leg until your body is parallel to the floor, arms hanging down.
        • Slowly return to the starting position.
        • Repeat and switch legs after doing all the reps.

        Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a 60 second break in between. If you’re new to this, you can also do it without weights.

        4. Jumping Jacks

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          Jumping jacks are an excellent leg toning workout move. They work your quadriceps, glutes, and hips. According to one study[1], they may also improve bone density. Additionally, this exercise also increases strength and agility. Here’s how you do jumping jacks:

          • Stand straight with your legs together and arms to your sides.
          • Jump into the air and spread your legs slightly beyond shoulder-width apart while your arms stretch over your head.
          • Jump back quickly, bringing yourself to the starting position.
          • Repeat.

          Start with 3 sets of 10 or more repetitions of jumping jacks.

          5. Single-Leg Calf Raise

          See the source image

            The single-leg calf raise strengthens both your lower legs and helps improve balance on one foot. This is important because it can improve sports performance and prevent injuries. Furthermore, it can also help prevent the onset of knee pain. Finally, it may also increase the size of your calves. To do a single-leg calf raise:

            • Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and arms on your hips.
            • Bend your left knee and bring it hip-level.
            • Lift your right heel off the ground and balance on the ball of your foot.
            • Pause for a moment and lower your heel.
            • Repeat and then switch sides.

            Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg. Consider adding weight to make it more difficult.

            6. Side Lunges

              This leg toning workout move targets the sides of the glutes and quadricep muscles. It’s also a great exercise for tight hips and groin. Needless to say, it strengthens both your legs and boosts stability. To execute a side lunge the right way:

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              • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands clasped in front of your chest.
              • Take a big step out to the right and lower your right knee until it is bent 90 degrees while pushing your butt back.
              • Keep your left leg straight during the process.
              • Push back and return to the starting position.
              • Repeat.

              Shoot for 10-12 reps and switch sides. Aim for 3 sets on each leg.

              7. Plank Leg Lifts

                Plank leg lifts work your butt and upper legs. With this exercise, you’ll also be able to get the benefits of a regular plank, meaning it will tone your whole body. It trains your core, glutes, and shoulders. Even better? It also trims body fat and improves posture. To do a plank leg lift:

                • Begin in a low plank position with your body straight and weight on your forearms.
                • Tighten your abs and raise your right leg, pausing for a moment.
                • Lower your right leg and do the same with your left leg.
                • Repeat.

                Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps. Brace your abs and glutes during the process.

                8. Glute Bridge

                  The glute bridge makes one of the best leg toning workouts for beginners. It sculpts your legs and improves hip mobility. If done correctly, it also enhances core stability. This exercise is also safe for people with chronic back pain. To do a glute bridge:

                  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms at your sides.
                  • Squeeze your abs and glutes.
                  • Raise your hips off the floor until your shoulder, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
                  • Pause for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
                  • Repeat.

                  Shoot for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Do this 2-3 times a week. You can also wrap a resistance band around your thighs to challenge your endurance.

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                  9. Step-Ups

                    If you’re looking to strengthen your thighs, step-ups are an excellent choice. It targets the quadricep muscle that helps protect the knee. What’s more, it also improves balance and stability. You can do step-ups anywhere. All you have to do is find a bench, chair or any raised platform. To do a step-up properly:

                    • Begin standing facing a step.
                    • Place your right foot on the step and left foot on the floor.
                    • Press through your right heel and bring the left foot up until your left knee forms a 90-degree angle.
                    • Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position.
                    • Repeat and switch legs.

                    Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side. To make it harder, hold dumbbells in your hands.

                    10. Dumbbell Good Morning

                    How to Do Good Mornings With Perfect Form | Muscle & Fitness

                      Dumbbell good mornings mainly target the hamstrings, but they also improve hip and back strength. You’ll also be able to develop stronger glutes with this exercise. Overall, it’s a great exercise for toning your legs. To perform this exercise:

                      1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent while holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level.
                      2. Hinge forward at your hips, and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
                      3. Hold this position for 4-5 seconds and return to your original position.
                      4. Repeat.

                      Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

                      Final Thoughts

                      There are so many benefits of having well-toned legs. Stronger legs not only look good, but they also give you greater independence as you age. Therefore, it’s important to take good care of them.

                      In addition to exercise, you should also consider exfoliation and moisturization to keep your legs smooth, healthy, and firm. Always remember that strong legs are important if you want to live a healthy and active life. So, start working those leg muscles today, and you’ll thank yourself later.

                      More Tips on Strengthening Your Legs

                      Featured photo credit: Sergio Pedemonte via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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