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5 Reasons to Walk Without Headphones

Walking Must-Haves

Personally, I have a terrible habit of not walking or working out unless I have all the right components. Until recently, one of my absolute walking must-haves was my headphones and music filled cellular device. And I couldn’t listen to any old podcast or Pandora channel; I had it so bad I had to have a fresh workout playlist locked and loaded with high tempo Pop or Rap songs that would last me throughout the duration of my workout or walk.

Having upbeat music you genuinely enjoy can make walking and working out fun.

Getting Ready to Walk Is 50% of the Battle

Getting ready to go walking.
Getting ready to go walking. | Source

Music Helps, ‘Tis True

Now I know that having upbeat music you genuinely enjoy can make walking and working out fun. It helps with tracking time, and it helps to have something to rhythmically coordinate your pace with. There is something about high-tempo music that increases your heart rate and sparks a burst of energy. Let’s face it we all have those moments when we hear a familiar song and, “whoop, there it is!”. Now you’re dancing, breaking out in song, or embarrassing yourself at the gas station, but you feel good doing it.

I am here to encourage my fellow music loving walkers and workout warriors to not be deterred from getting your exercise because you don’t have headphones!

Remember This, and That, and This…

While I know the benefits and fun there is to be had in combining music with workouts, I also know the extra mindfulness required to prepare all the necessary components for one’s jam-packed workout session. As someone who has deliberately opted out of walking or going to the gym because my cell phone didn’t have enough juice-or because I couldn’t find one of my 10 pairs of headphones- I know how it feels to like to do things a certain way, or to need time to prepare. We are after all, creatures of habit and comfort. And, we also fall short sometimes.

5 Reasons to Workout Without Headphones

Here are five reasons why you should try working out without headphones:

  1. Mental Clarity: I find when I listen to my music while walking, I tend to get carried away with thoughts that are triggered by the lyrics. Most of the time those thoughts are unproductive, and fleeting, and further I rarely can remember them once I am done. But walking without all the distractions can allow you to reset mentally, enjoy mental clarity, and develop an appreciation for moments of quiet.
  2. Safety: This did not occur to me until I was walking in a super safe neighborhood, but wearing headphones when you walk is actually pretty unsafe, especially if you’re like me and like to have the music blaring. You can’t hear if someone is behind you, yelling trying to get your attention, or anything else.
  3. Memory & Learning: Physical exercise is great for your short and long-term memory and learning new things. When you engage in exercise activity your muscles release chemicals which can actually aid in the learning and memory retention processes. So walking in general is good, but recalling things you need to do, things you recently learned, or any other mental exercises while walking is even better!
  4. Engage with Others: Walking without headphones and audible distractions allow you to more fully live in the moment. You allow yourself the opportunity to listen to nature, experience your surroundings more fully, and even perhaps engage with your neighbors, fellow walkers, or gym visitors.
  5. Sweaty Ears: There is no worse feeling than having sweat drip into your ears and having soggy headphones, or earbuds that squish and keep falling out your ears. It’s a gross feeling.

A perspective shift allowed me to change how I viewed one of my most dreaded activities

Just You

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Be Intentional and Determined

One Sunday morning, while visiting my partner’s father in Augusta I had the urge to go walking, but I didn’t charge my cell phone the night before and I did not have a set of headphones. I had been planning for weeks to develop a new workout regimen of walking early in the morning and getting in the habit of thoroughly stretching. So that morning when the feeling struck, I did not want to lose my motivation or momentum and I decided to go. I must have spent 15 minutes looking for headphones, a Walkman, or something that I could take with me to avoid the quiet of my own mind. But there was nothing lying around, and everyone was either gone to church or sleeping. I decided then and there, to never be my own roadblock to progress again. I put on my sweat pants, Nike trainers, and my hoodie. Then I started walking.

The birds were chirping, everything was green and beautiful in the crisp morning light. I admired the beauty and design of the neighborhood I was in, and I was grateful to just be at peace with my thoughts. As the side walk came to an end, I continued on walking to the right side of the neighborhood street waving back at friendly strangers passing by. Then I heard music thumping, and people screaming. Naturally my curiosity was piqued, so I followed the music. I walked to the end of a dead-end street towards a foot path that lead to a wooden fence with an opening. Upon investigation, I found the annual Special Olympics event being hosted at the local YMCA, which had a track open to the public. I went over past the crowd to the track and had the best walk of my life. I even got to help cheer on the participants and make someone else feel good about being active.

Disregard the Discomfort

Being heavy and on a weight loss journey, the truth of the matter is, I didn’t reallywant to be walking, deep down I would have rather been cooking breakfast. But having something to investigate took my mind off the end result of 30 minutes of walking, and refocused my attention to the process of exploring and enjoying my surroundings. With that mindset, walking became a means to an end, and the discomfort of the activity was disregarded. A perspective shift allowed me to change how I viewed one of my most dreaded activities, but first I had to allow myself to leave my comfort zone and explore new ways of doing things. And in the end, I walked more than 45 minutes, 15 minutes more than my original goal of 30.

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