What Is Silent Walking—And Does It Actually Help Reduce Stress?

Step aside earbuds. I’ve got nature to listen to!

Reviewed by Dietitian Jessica Ball, M.S., RD

Quite a few trends pertaining to “silence” have surfaced on social media lately. Among them are videos about the surreal quiet walk home after a loud concert, the silent drive back home after a busy day at work and the more recent trend taking over the internet: silent walking.

TikTok influencer and podcast host Mady Maio first posted about silent walking in September, saying that the act of disconnecting from her phone on walks has been life-changing. As far as TikTok’s younger generation is concerned, Maio may have even coined the term “silent walking” with this new trend, but others are not so convinced. Some viewers have commented, “So, she’s just walking?” Or those who experienced the world before phones and even Walkmans are commenting, “Gen X here, been silent walking for years.” Regardless, the trend has led to tens of popular videos on the app, like this one by AimeeJFit.

The original viral video reached over half a million likes, before it was taken down. Yet, it’s still worth discussing what silent walking is and how it might have real benefits for your health.

Related: The 9 Best Walking Shoes, According to Podiatrists

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

What Is Silent Walking?

To engage in a silent walk means to intentionally put your phone away while on the walk. No podcasts, no music, no phone calls—just the sounds of nature, traffic and your own footsteps and thoughts. For some people, removing technology in this way could change a potentially chaotic or mindless trot into a bout of mindful exercise. Especially when many of us are so accustomed to all-day, every-day exposure to screen time and noise—whether that be from technology, school, socializing or work—it can be important to occasionally unplug.

You might even go as far as to claim that silent walking is a form of meditation. When you’re not listening to any media or talking to friends or family, you’re one step closer to connecting with your body, relaxing your mind and letting your thoughts flow as you move. Plus, consistent walking in and of itself can be a very effective form of exercise and a great way to relieve stress.

Related: What Is Joyful Movement & How Can It Help You Actually Enjoy Exercising?

But does this mean walking while listening to your favorite beats is bad? Not necessarily. A 2019 study in Sports conducted by researchers at Samford University showed that participants who listened to music they liked while exercising felt less tired during their workout, because they were able to dissociate in a positive manner. Though silent walking is a great way to disconnect from technology and start connecting with yourself, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use technology or music to boost your mood or even help you intensify your walk if that’s your goal.

The Bottom Line

Silent walking has surfaced on social media as a trend, but it’s really a reminder to sometimes disconnect from your tech and connect with yourself and the natural world.

Whether that means turning off the music while you walk or finding other ways to practice mindfulness throughout the day, silence and walking (or both at the same time) can have great benefits for your physical and mental health.

Not sure where to start? Try taking a look at our four-week walking plan to help reduce stress.

Read the original article on Eating Well.