The Buzz

Earbuds out for the latest fitness trend: Silent walking gaining traction

Feet in hiking boot walking along a natural surface trail.
(Photo via Shutterstock)

Keep your earbuds in your pocket for your next stroll through the woods or spin around the block. Silent walking is the latest fitness trend, and it couldn't be easier to try for yourself. 

Silent walking is simply walking without listening to music or a podcast or engaging in conversation along the way, according to Today. The idea began gaining traction on TikTok over the summer after one woman posted about her experience enjoying a walk free from distractions. Like most TikTok trends, it blossomed quickly from there, with countless other users chiming in about their experiences enjoying these silent walks.

The idea behind silent walking is giving yourself a chance to clear your mind, Today reports. Our lives are busy and often loud, with sensory input coming at us from every direction. Being intentional about giving yourself a break from these distractions — even those we enjoy — is a way to become more aware of ourselves and the environment around us. 

The concept of silent walking isn't exactly a new one. Buddhist monks have for centuries engaged in the process of meditative walking, which is similar to today's trendy silent walks, according to Today. What we can get from these silent strolls is similar to what monks try to achieve with meditative walking. Removing distractions allows us to connect to our internal and external environments. 

If you want to give silent walking a try, it's easy enough. Put your phone in your pocket, tell your walking buddy you'll meet up another time and leave the dog at home. Then head out into nature and walk quietly, with only your thoughts to distract you. As you walk, focus on how you feel and listen and observe the world around you. Go slowly so you can take it all in.

Being free of distractions so you can clear your mind is the point of silent walking, but you can make your walk more meditative with a few more easy steps. Start by walking purposefully, beginning with making a choice of what foot to start with, Mindful recommends. Focus on how you feel as your feet hit the ground while also paying attention to your surroundings — what do you hear, see, feel, smell? 

It's not just the steps you take on your silent walk that are beneficial. Allowing yourself to listen to nature all around you has positive effects on your health as well. Just the sounds of nature can help lower your blood pressure, improve cognitive performance and reduce pain.

And, of course, the exercise you get from walking isn't exactly the point of this latest trend, but it certainly doesn't hurt. You know physical activity is good for you, but regular walking has a few health benefits that might come as a surprise. Walking can help reduce your cravings for chocolate and other sweet treats, reduce your risk of breast cancer and other kinds of cancer, relieve joint pain, reduce the effects of weight-promoting genes and boost your immune system, according to the Harvard Medical School.

Making time to walk is beneficial to your physical and mental health whether it is silent or not, so pop those earbuds in if it helps you get more steps in. But remember that it's a good idea to only wear one earbud when walking or jogging so you can hear traffic and other trail users alerting you to their presence. 

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