Whether it’s a lack of motivation or the need for accountability, a dedicated training partner can help. But what about those times when you’re forced to head out for your walking workout solo?
While this can seem less fun and exciting, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can learn to love your solo walks just as much as those you do with a training partner — and there are some great benefits to be had along the way.
From reaping the perks of mindful walking to listening to audiobooks and podcasts, the ideas below keep your solo walks enjoyable and productive.
WHY WALKING ALONE CAN BE BENEFICIAL
If you’re used to having a training partner on your daily walks, you could be missing out on a number of potential benefits. While this doesn’t mean you need to do all of your walks alone, walking alone a few times per week could be just what you need to mix things up and introduce variety into your workouts.
Here are a few benefits of solo walking:
- It can be more relaxing, allowing you to relieve stress through meditative practices.
- You’ll be able to move at whatever pace you like.
- You pick the route and have the flexibility to explore new areas on the fly.
- You can mix up your walking times to meet the demands of a hectic work schedule that might require you to walk at lunch instead of after work.
- It’ll be easier to focus on your goals — like walking form, posture and speed — for the workout.
IDEAS TO MAKE WALKING ALONE ENJOYABLE
Even though walking alone can be just as fun, interesting, and productive as a session with a training partner, for some, boredom is the first thing that comes to mind when considering solo walking. This, however, is far from the truth. In fact, it’s easy to add lots of variety and goals to your solo sessions to get the most possible out of your workouts while staying motivated and entertained in the process.
Give one of these five solo walking ideas a try to get started:
1: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MINDFUL WALKING
This method of walking is all about paying attention to your body and being more aware of nature, which can help you to relieve stress, curb cravings and improve your energy levels. Mindful walking is also relatively easy to practice and only requires you to pick a peaceful route (preferably in nature) and leave your distractions at home. Here are a few tips you can use to start practicing:
- Focus on one thing at a time. This should be something like taking notice of the green trees or your posture or form as your feet strike the ground and not the stressful interactions you’ve had throughout the day.
- Pay more attention to your senses. Ideally, choose a sense that you more commonly ignore, like all the little things you can hear or smell.
- Concentrate on your breath. Like meditation, mindfulness is about feeling connected and centered in nature. There is no better way to accomplish this than to notice how you breathe as you exercise, following the air as it moves into and out of your body.
2: MULTITASK WITH A GOOD BOOK OR PODCAST
You know that book you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t had the time to get into? Solo walks are the perfect time to catch up on an audiobook or podcast while you exercise. The good news is, listening to something interesting can make the time fly by faster than you think, making it an excellent option for those long days when you’re putting in the miles. While it’s still good to not rely on technology for every walk, including something fun and entertaining can help when you find yourself low on motivation to get outdoors and exercise.
3: AWE WALK ONCE A WEEK
Looking for a way to boost your mental health? A 15-minute awe walk can have wide-ranging benefits, such as an expanded sense of time, feelings of generosity toward others, improvements in well-being and lower stress levels. To get started with this technique, you’ll need to walk alone at a light pace and have minimal distractions. Then, it’s as simple as taking the focus off of yourself to consider the marvels of the world around you. This helps you shift your focus to the vastness of the world, bringing more peace and clarity into your everyday life. Here are some spots you can visit to help trigger feelings of awe on your walks:
- A location near mountains with sweeping views.
- A nature trail lined with trees.
- A clear night when you can see the stars.
- An urban setting that will allow you to appreciate beautiful architecture.
- A path near an ocean, river or other body of water.
4: BOOST YOUR WORKOUT WITH A FEW INTERVALS
When you’re short on time, intervals can be an excellent way to up your calorie burn and improve your walking speed at the same time. While you technically can do these with a partner, varying speeds can make it a challenge to stay together. For this reason, we like these quick sessions when heading out solo so that the focus can be on form, efficiency, and speed.
Here’s a quick and simple 30-minute workout:
- Warm up for 5 minutes
- Alternate 4 minutes of walking at your normal pace with 1 minute of fast walking. During the one-minute on, concentrate on posture, form and arm swing. Repeat this four times.
- Cool down for the last 5 minutes.
5: START BREATHWALKING
Also known as yoga walking, breathwalking is a technique that synchronizes your breathing with your stride. This has shown to calm your mind, improve your conscious awareness, and provide a number of health benefits — like reducing your risk for heart disease. While a technique like this can be hard to accomplish with a partner because of the level of concentration it requires, it’s a great idea for those days when you’re going out solo.
One entry-level method to begin breathwalking is the wave technique:
- Inhale through your nose for 4-foot strikes, breathing deeply from the diaphragm. Follow this with a long slow exhale for the next 4 steps. Start by repeating this for several minutes. Take breaks as needed and up the duration as you gain comfort. Before long, you’ll begin to notice how this technique rhythmically syncs your breath and steps to add a meditative quality to your walks.
Article by MARC LINDSAY