What is Silent Walking?

A Healthier Michigan

| 4 min read

For many, it is second nature to grab a phone and earphones before a walk or a run. Silent walking is the idea of a focused, silent walk without listening to music, podcasts, conversation, or other activities often used during runs or walks. The goal of silent walking is to focus your mind and body on the walk, on the world around you, and to use the walk as a meditative experience.
Silent walking became popular recently due to viral sharing of a video showing and explaining the idea on social media, according to the New York Times. 

What are the benefits of silent walking?

Walking is a healthy activity and using walking as a meditation can bring added benefits, according to a 2018 study. Even a 10-minute brisk walk with focused meditation can help to alleviate stress and sooth mood.
Walking in and of itself is healthy, and focused or meditative walking in nature can bring even further benefits, according to a 2022 study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, including improvements in mental health, and with depression and anxiety.
Silent walking also provides an opportunity to sort through thoughts and emotions consciously or subconsciously and can help greatly with mental decluttering. An increase in purposeful or guided mindfulness is correlated to an improvement in mood, according to a study in Mindfulness journal.
It can also help break through mental or creative blocks or barriers. Walking can help induce creative thoughts or novel ideas, and in general stimulates the brain creatively, and even more so when walking outside, studies say.
Routine meditative silent walking may provide benefits such as:
  • improved mood
  • decreased distress or anger
  • reduced stress and anxiety
  • improved sleep quality
  • reduced fatigue
  • improved productivity and creativity

How to silent walk

Silent walking is an easy, free, highly accessible workout and meditation option, especially if running or walking is a regular activity already. Here are some things to note or plan for before you try silent walking:
  • Bring water and sun protection like for any other outdoor walk.
  • Know your route – no phones walking includes maps or guide apps, other than for safety needs.
  • Know the weather and plan ahead.
  • Be aware of traffic routes along your walk.
When you’re ready to try walking without music or podcasts, a silent walk is easy to start. It may be difficult as first as the mind wanders or looks for the usual accompaniment of conversation or music.
Soon, with focused silent walking, the mindful or meditative benefits of the walk should soon start to kick in. Even a five-to-ten minute walk is long enough for improved focus or mood to kick in, but a long walk of 30-60 minutes is suggested. All you need to do is follow some simple steps that make silent walking distinct from regular walks:
  1. Pick a natural, outdoor location for your walk. Interacting with and experiencing nature adds to the benefits of silent walking.
  2. Focus on nature around you as you walk and on whatever you’d like that you notice. It can be rustling wind, singing birds, even the texture or material of the path you’re walking on.
  3. Focus on maintaining silence. Of course, a greeting or “excuse me” or quick casual interactions with passersby are fine, but no external stimulus like music, podcasts, or audiobooks should be used. The uninterrupted interaction with nature and connection with your body is the more important focus.
  4. If you notice any positive effects on your mood, stress levels, energy, sleep, or any others, make a note about the experience later. This can help later nature walks or silent walking sessions benefit even more. Keeping notes or journals about your meditation or mental health experiences is a reflective practice that can increase benefits from exercise, meditation, and improve mood on its own, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Related Links:

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.