When you head out for a stroll, do you automatically pop in your earbuds or noise cancelling headphones and tune into a podcast or favourite playlist? Well, turns out you might be doing yourself a big favour by leaving them behind at least some of the time and especially when walking out in nature. A silent stroll can bring a whole range of benefits that go beyond the mere anecdotal into some hard science.
From a mental health perspective, silent walks are like a chill pill for the brain. The steady rhythm of walking combined with the sense of connection with the surroundings can foster feelings of calm – and even induce a kind of meditative state. So far, so mindfulness – but recent scientific research suggests that silence may have some measurable physiological benefits for our brains too.
Back in 2013, researchers subjected mice to various auditory environments to see how they impacted neurogenesis. After seven days of silence, the mice generated precursor cells which matured into neurons. The silence proved more effective than things like classical music for example, which had very little effect on neurogenesis. Of course, mice aren’t humans – but the results are still promising.
What we do know is that getting into that zen state while walking can lower levels of the so-called stress hormone cortisol. You might also find that the quiet aids creative thinking – giving your brain a break from the constant flow of information we’re subjected to in these modern times.
Then of course there are the well-documented physical perks. It’s not a marathon, but it’s still a win for your heart. Silent walking keeps things ticking – better blood flow, lower blood pressure. It’s like a mini workout without the sweat. So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, ditch the noise and take a silent walk. Your mind and body will thank you for the quiet adventure!