I tried this 10-minute walking exercise every day for a week to build mental strength — here's what happened

Man walking outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I’ve had regular meditation practice for many years, but I tend to sit in a quiet space for most of my sessions. This is a really common way to meditate, but it’s not the only way. Walking meditations offer a similar mindfulness boost, but while you’re on the move.

It’s a bit like taking a mindful walk, except you’re really focused on heightening your awareness of your surroundings and how your body feels as you move through the world. So, as winter gave way to spring, I decided to give walking meditation a try.

After using sitting meditations for so long, I was worried I’d find it difficult or too much of a gear change from my usual practice. I needn’t have worried. The experience changed, but the fundamentals stayed the same, even though I was strolling through the city while I did it.

That doesn’t mean you need to have done meditation before. I’d argue that this walking meditation from Alo Moves is actually a great way for beginners to try the practice, as you can start to build your mind-body connection while going about your daily routine.

Watch Alo Moves’ 10-minute walking meditation

This 10-minute session is led by meditation instructor Kirat Randhawa and comes from Alo Moves’ The Sculpt Lineup, a three-week beginner program of yoga classes, walking meditations, and nutrition tips designed to help you keep motivated and move your body each day.

It's a practical way to develop mental strength, sometimes known as resilience. As we go about our day, we face many situations; some pleasant, some unpleasant. Developing mental strength helps us deal these, as we are more able to focus on the present moment, rather than getting lost in our thoughts.

I decided to switch my usual sitting meditation for this 10-minute walking session every day for a week. This would help it feel more routine, give me enough time to get used to this new approach, and see the benefits. Here’s what happened.

It helped me see more of the world

When I first learned to meditate, one of the most noticeable differences was how little I really noticed when I was outside. It was small details, like the architecture of a local building, or the miniature inner-city green spaces where nature flourished.

I’d always been too busy or distracted to notice them until I started practicing meditation to develop a more mindful outlook. But when you’re not in the middle of a dedicated session, it’s easy to lose focus. That’s the thing with mindfulness — it’s not a binary skill, where you either have it or you don’t.

Instead, you need to continually develop mindful behaviors and consistently train the mind to refocus on the present moment when you get distracted. Alo Moves’ walking meditation was a great way to continue refining this skill, as you’re attempting to notice the world around you in greater detail as you move.

So, instead of getting sucked into planning your to-do list for the day, the instructor helps you to be aware of the sights and sounds around you in a way that you can’t do when your eyes are closed in a traditional meditation.

It was fun to change my routine

I’ve meditated in the same way for almost a decade; find a quiet spot in the house or a seat in a park, pop in some workout headphones to drown out the background noise, and start my guided meditation with my eyes closed. It’s been effective, but variety is fun, too.

Switching to a walking meditation for a week was a good challenge. It freed me from my seat and my perception of what a meditation session should look like. Plus, learning how to do it means that I now have another option, especially if I don’t have an opportunity to sit in silence one day.

You don’t need to walk slowly

I’d always had an idea of what a meditation walk would look like; slow and purposeful. If that’s how you like to walk and it feels comfortable, then you can absolutely do that, but you don’t have to. Instead, you can carry on at your usual pace but still bring your attention to the present.

I generally walk quite briskly (I have an energetic dog, so I tend to keep to her pace even when I’m on my own) and found that I could still follow the prompts and spot sights, sounds, and smells in my environment that probably would have passed me by before.

That said, I wouldn’t recommend doing it when you’re in a rush. One day, I was tight on time and tried to pack in a session while walking speedily up a steep hill. It’s a fairly intense slope at the best of times, so I got fairly distracted and sweaty, and lost a bit of focus during the meditation.

I felt the benefits all day

Meditation is a way to develop mindfulness, which is the ability to stay present and notice the world around you. Just as you go to the gym to get stronger and find everyday tasks easier, you need to train your mind through meditation to develop mindfulness.

Although I still need to practice to make it a regular part of my day, I saw the results almost immediately. I was able to more easily appreciate the spring flowers, smell the food and drink at local coffee stores, and notice the feeling as my arms brushed gently against my top.

It won’t tempt me away from sitting meditations entirely (I still love taking some quiet time to focus on my breath every morning), but it showed me that there’s good reason and plenty of reasons to be flexible and adaptable in my approach in the future.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing. His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym. Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones. He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.