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Need a Change? Go for a Walk

A man walking on a path in a forest looking up and holding binoculars
WHL/Getty Images

We all feel stuck in a rut from time to time. If you need to make a change but don’t know where to start, consider going for a walk — but not your average walk. Instead of focusing on getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat, try mindful walking. Also known as walking meditation, it’s a great step toward finding that creative solution that’s been eluding you, or setting a new direction.

Walking meditation is one form of mindfulness practice, which involves paying attention to what’s happening in the present, says Sara Lazar, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The idea is to walk slowly while paying attention to your senses and surroundings — from chirping birds or the hum of a city bus rushing by to the way your feet hit the ground. “Start with 10 or 15 minutes,” says Lazar. “Set an intention of staying in the present moment … rather than planning your day or rehashing a conversation you had earlier.”

By quieting the mind, walking meditation and other mindfulness practices can help you observe situations rather than react to them, Lazar says. Mindfulness can also promote “fluid intelligence,” which helps people solve problems in new, creative ways, according to research by Lazar and others. Classes such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, offer instruction for walking meditation and other forms of mindfulness practice.

To learn more strategies for getting unstuck, read this article in Staying Sharp.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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