How 7,000-10,000 steps per day can be easier than you think.


woman in green jacket walking on pathway between trees during daytime
woman in green jacket walking on pathway between trees during daytime

When we're outside, it is common for our attention and mind to be elsewhere, not focused on the movement that is happening with our body. Often when walking outside, whether on a hiking trail or going from one place to another along a city street, we are focused on something else. Maybe we are listening to a podcast or our favorite playlist, making a phone call, or simply lost in the days thoughts.

Walking meditation is made to sync the body and mind during these outings, and can make it easy to get those extra steps while also working on training the mind in awareness. If you aren't fan of seated meditation, this is a great alternative.

Because walking is something we all do on auto-pilot, it can be easy for our minds to wander and we get taken away from the present moment and the opportunity to connect with everything around us. The feeling of paying attention to our surroundings can be quite different than thinking about the endless thoughts swirling in our head.

With walking meditation, one is mindfully walking while using a meditative technique. Walking with our eyes wide open and at a comfortable pace, regardless of the environment. You can walk through your neighborhood, along city sidewalks, or on a nature trail. You can also walk alone, or with a dog, friend, or partner. Wherever or with whomever you walk, you will want to follow each cue for 30-60 seconds:

BODY CHECK - Notice how the body feels when you start to walk. Heavy or light, stiff or relaxed. Take a few seconds to become aware of your posture and the way you are carrying yourself.
OBSERVE - Without trying to change, just observer your gait and bring attention to it. Though you may initially feel self-conscious, that will pass.
TUNE IN - Pay attention to what is happening around you by simply acknowledging what you see without giving it much thought. Are there passing cars, trees or nature, other people or animals.
NOTING SOUNDS - Without really trying to analyze or dwell on it too long, what are the sounds that come across your ears.
FAMILIAR SMELLS - They can be good or bad smells, but you want to notice how the mind reacts to the different smells and any memories that pop up because of them. They do say that smell is very tightly tied to memories, though you don't want to dwell too long there.
PHYSICAL SENSATIONS - Take notice of of any physical sensations such as how the weather is making you feel, how the ground feels beneath your feet. Don't pay too much attention, but realize it and move on.
MOVEMENT - After a couple minutes, think about the movement that is happening with your body. How are your arms hanging or swinging by your sides, how your weight shifts from left to right, notice your walking pace and the rhythm you have created.
FOCUS ON YOUR RHYTHM - You want to use that rhythm as the base of your awareness. This will be the place you come back to when your mind starts to wander and you need to reel it back in. Repeat this process through your walk as often as needed and the steps can be adapted to fit your walk or needs.

For more tips on walking meditation in specific areas, or to access a library of guided meditation, visit: