Next Time You Walk or Jog…

You likely already know that both walking and jogging are great for health, strengthening the heart and lungs, and potentially increasing quality and quantity of life.

You probably also know that both forms of cardio are good for the mind, too.  To me, the mind is what’s most important to train anyway.  Wherever the mind goes, the body follows, meaning that if you desire to get in shape, you must first make a mental decision, and then your body will do whatever you tell it to do.

I have a tip for you for the next time you go out and exercise, so that you can be even healthier mentally.  I hope you’re ready for it.

Leave your headphones at home.

Yes, I know saying such a thing can invite some criticism, but I do believe that exercising sometimes without listening to music is a very valuable and worthy thing to do.

Turning Off the Hoses

In a post I wrote last month, I talked about how every single day, we receive tons of information through radios, work computers, cell phones and other electronics.  We receive all of this through our ears and eyes all day long.  I liken it to having 4 water hoses, with one pointed at each ear and each eye, and with each hose opened all the way up.

When we get off of work to head to the gym, and plop the headphones in, we essentially keep those hoses wide open.  Keeping it quiet while jogging or walking, however, can provide a great opportunity for solitude.  I like to call such a thing “toning of the soul.”

“But I Need a Distraction…”

Many, if not most, listen to music during exercise to provide distraction from the discomfort they experience.  Trust me, I get it…especially if we’re talking about intense exercise.  Sometimes, getting amped up with music before some sprints or before attempting a heavy lift helps.

But imagine if you got to where you no longer needed a distraction.  Imagine if you were able to do those same lifts with full knowledge and awareness of what you’re doing, and without your mind on tunes.  That’s a strong mind.

I agree that this is perhaps easier said than done with difficult exercise sessions (although it’s fully possible), but for an easy run or walk, it’s much easier to do.  You just have to train yourself if you’re not used to the silence.  I promise you that it’s worth it.

Case In Point

Let me explain my rationale from my own experience.  I exercise outside most of the time, one, because the fact that I do largely bodyweight exercises allows me to exercise almost anywhere, and two, because I like the added health benefit of sunlight and fresh air.

When I take a walk outside, without music or any other electronic device, I am aware.

I am aware of the sky, the various plants, and the many birds that surround me.

I am aware of the fact that I live around other people, and I can interact with them.

I am aware of myself more, noticing my breathing and the speeding/slowing of my heart rate as I increase and decrease intensity.

I am aware of any vehicles that pass by on the road (important), as well as of any dogs that might have escaped their enclosures and are a little too curious of me.

I am aware of my thoughts, and able to detoxify from the multitudes of those thoughts that run through my mind every day.

Instead of adding stuff to my mind, I’m able to subtract stuff from my mind.  Consider this:  We use music to try and forget our worries and troubles, but do we actually need the opposite to give our brains a true rest?  If your computer is running slowly because you have a lot of programs open, do you open more programs?  Probably not, because your computer will either run slower or it’ll stop responding. Instead, you usually wait to let the computer catch up, and you may also close some programs if you can.

If a computer benefits from getting a break from processing so much, I think it’s a given that our brains would benefit in similar fashion.

I’m telling you, this is really good stuff.  If you learn how to be cool with silence, you’re not just strengthening your muscles, but you’re also strengthening your mind.


So hey, next time you go out for that casual walk or jog, leave your device behind.  Matter of fact, I challenge you to leave it behind most of the time.  You might find that you actually enjoy exercise more when you get used to it.

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