Forget the gym — this 30-minute walking workout builds mental strength and boosts your metabolism

a woman walking up a set of stairs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Build mental strength and boost your metabolism with this accessible 30-minute walking workout without weights. You can do it anywhere, at any time, and any fitness level. 

The mindful walking meditation led by Goop, in partnership with outdoor footwear brand Merrell, is designed to get you moving outdoors and being more present. And according to your guide, you don't even need to stroll, if you don't want to. 

We recommend stocking up on the best hiking gear first, then checking out the video below, which you can follow along on your next walk, wherever you happen to be. 

Watch the Goop x Merrell 30-minute walking workout video:

“Developing a deep connection with nature is a matter of getting out in it,” the team says. The session, led by Mel Mah, acts as a guided mindfulness practice “meant for the outdoors” — think hikes, beaches, parks, or even your backyard — and just requires 30 minutes of your time. 

We recommend a set of the best workout headphones if you plan to walk in a public space and prefer privacy.

Time spent in nature has plenty of physical and mental benefits; it could improve sleep, reduce stress and lower your heart rate, and some research has shown that spending time outdoors, particularly in nature, can even boost creativity. 

According to Mah, connection creates space to slow down. “Let’s begin by slowing down the mind and body,” she says. You’ll start by closing down your eyes, lengthening through your spine and taking a pause to notice any sensations in your body as you attune to your breath.

It’s worth noting that Mah doesn’t instruct you to walk until halfway through the session, allowing people who might not be looking to exercise to take part. To benefit from a full 30-minute walking workout, we recommend starting your walk first, then hitting play when you're ready. 

Benefits of walking outdoors

From a physical perspective, clocking up the steps is great for maintaining a healthy metabolism, reducing sedentary time and contributing toward NEAT (how many calories you burn outside of workouts during the day). 

Although positioned as a walking meditation, you can gear the session toward a walking workout by using a light set of handheld weights, ankle or wrist weights, adding pace, or using hilly terrain to increase the heart rate, add resistance and work the muscles harder. But whether you choose to stroll or up the ante a little, you'll still benefit from getting outdoors and moving around.

Not all the best walking workouts need weights though — you can still build mental strength while physically strengthening your muscles, joints, bones and ligaments using your body weight. Besides, this session has a strong mindfulness focus. Mah even gives some silent time for you to do your own thing during the session, so if you want to add intensity, you can. 

It’s worth noting that any exercise is good exercise and we should aim for at least 7,000 steps a day, so all your daily steps count however you fit them in. If you’re specifically walking for weight loss, this session might not offer enough intensity; try this 20-minute walking workout with weights or the 3 best walking workouts to build lower body strength instead. 

Along with improving mood and mindfulness, walking strengthens the lower body muscles and your hip, knee and ankle joints, which are crucial for maintaining muscle mass and strong bones as you age. This contributes toward a process called osteogenic loading — loading the bones to stimulate growth.

As you walk, try to take in your surroundings, noticing any smells, sounds, or sensations you can feel or hear. Observe how your feet feel as they touch the ground beneath you — bumpy or soft, for example. Explore your breath as you move, and try to avoid letting the mind wander too far away from these sensations.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.