What is the new ‘silent walking’ trend that TikTokers can’t get enough of?
We've lost count of the beauty, fashion and fitness trends that have emerged, or gone viral, on social networks. But the latest one is sure to be the subject of chatter around the office cooler.
Picture: Getty Images / Oleh_Slobodeniuk
“Silent walking” or “the silent walk” is said to be beneficial for our mental health, if only for putting anything remotely related to technology out of sight and mind for the duration of a stroll.
Are young people trying to reinvent walking? That’s a current subject of debate on social networks, TikTok in particular, with the new ‘silent walking’ wellness trend.
This ‘new’ practice consists of cutting oneself off from every imaginable technology in order to take a solo walk in nature, enjoying the benefits of silence and the environment around you while taking the time to connect with yourself.
Thirty minutes or so of silent walking is enough to improve mental health, according to the users of the Chinese social network who swear by this ‘revolutionary’ method.
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“Walking in silence has been the biggest part of my healing,” explains TikToker and life coach Val Jones in a post on the Asian social network. She adds: “When you walk in silence it’s like a meditation, it’s a meditative state.”
In a two-minute video, the user also explains that silent walking has many similarities with EMDR therapy, often used to treat certain traumas. Unlike other users, Val Jones doesn’t see this physical activity as a new trend, but praises it as a way to feel better in one’s body and mind – “calmer, less anxious, more relaxed, more connected, more grounded.”
@valjonescoaching Let me know if you try it! #walking #silentwalking #walkingformentalhealth #walkingforhealth #midlifewomen #midlifeawakening #divorcediaries #divorcerecoverycoach #divorcesupportforwomen #midlifecoach #midlifeinfluencer ♬ original sound – Val Jones – Life Coach
How is silent walking different to normal walking?
Unlike hiking or brisk walking, silent walking doesn’t require any specific physical qualities, as it’s simply a way of moving forward with no specific physical goal.
The aim is simple: put one foot in front of the other and try not to think about anything other than the natural world around you, without listening to any music or podcast. The idea is to combine the physical benefits of walking (muscle tone, respiratory functions, digestion, lower blood pressure) with the advantages of silence – or at least the absence of technology-related distractions.
Silent walking is nothing new, of course, whatever some TikTokers may say, but there’s no denying that they’re on target when it comes to its health benefits.
While there is no scientific data on this specific activity, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in October 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, indicated that contact with nature could improve mood and help individuals ruminate less.
Other studies and surveys have also shown that being in nature boosts productivity and, more generally, improves health. As for silence, it seems to be increasingly sought-after, especially by city dwellers, as shown by the success of silent retreats or ‘quiet parks’, which allow individuals to take time for connecting with themselves and with nature, far from any man-made noises.
Whatever the origins of ‘silent walking’, what’s key is that this form of physical activity, which is beneficial to both physical health and well-being – and allows you to disconnect by putting your phone on silent – is becoming increasingly popular, which can only be a good thing.
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