Walking is one of the most meditative physical activities you can engage in, and it offers plenty of opportunities for mindfulness and being present, as well as a wide range of health benefits. From lowering your risk of dementia to decreasing stress, walking will do you, your mind and your body plenty of good.
For many people, utilizing a walk as a way to get exercise and work toward greater self-awareness and inner peace is as simple as a comfy pair of shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, but there actually is some walking gear that can further aid you on your quest for exercise enlightenment.
From pedometers that count your steps to socks that keep your feet dry, practically massaged and blister-free, here are a handful of walking accessories that will make walking an even more peaceful, stress-reducing and health-boosting activity.
Even the most Zen-minded among us can get a bit competitive now and again. If you want your time walking in the woods or in your neighborhood to be a meditative one, you’ll want to avoid considering mileage, time or other measuring factors as you walk. That being said, walking is exercise, and it can be nice to keep track of how much distance you travel on any given day or week.
Use a pedometer, and you can have your cake and eat it, too. Keep your mind on the world around you while the pedometer keeps track of the work you’re doing. At the end of your walk, simply make a note of the distance you’ve traveled or number of steps you’ve taken, and next time you can challenge yourself to go even farther.
The Right Socks
When it comes to socks, a serious walker can get seriously fancy. Incredisocks are specially designed and manufactured to increase circulation in order to decrease inflammation. They have a thread count of 200, and they keep feet remarkably dry. They also help regulate temperature so your feet will never be too hot or too cold.
If that sounds a little too rich for your blood, just make sure your socks aren’t cotton, and that they fit snugly and comfortably to your feet so you can avoid blisters.
While some meditative walkers like to travel with a journal while they’re out on a walk, simply having one in which you can later record thoughts, feelings, distance, time and the like will help you keep a valuable record of both exercise and insights.
From noticing the birds and foliage around you to increasing awareness regarding your mind’s flights of fancy, journaling is a valuable tool in record keeping and self-awareness.
The Right Water Pack
Staying hydrated — especially if your walks are lengthy, in difficult terrain or in hot or humid weather — is an essential part of being a regular walker. You most likely won’t need water on walks that are less than 30 minutes; just drink some before and after.
Anything more than that, however, will probably require some hydration so that you can keep moving and mindful of sensations, sounds, smells and sights other than your thirst. If you travel with a pack, simply taking along a bottle of water should suffice. You can also invest in waist packs or backpacks for more intense walks.
The Right Route
Walking is an activity that can really be benefited by its context. If you live near a nature reserve or forest, by all means, make use of that wild space as you seek to train your body and mind. Even a city park will be a more relaxing place than bustling city streets.
That being said, sometimes walking amidst crowds of people and traffic can provide a welcome perspective, too. Regardless of what you choose, pick a route that you will feel safe and secure negotiating, and ideally, let it be one that facilitates relaxation and enjoyment as you walk.
Walking is a great way to get exercise and overcome the effects of stress that can build up over the course of a workday or workweek. If you’re serious about incorporating walking as a means to mindfulness and wellness, make sure to choose gear that will assist you in that goal.