PARIS, June 27 — Part physical activity, part mental workout, the Afghan walk combines a number of benefits for both body and mind. This technique, inspired by Afghan nomads, enables you to walk for long distances without having to exert great physical effort. Its secret lies in the coordination of steps and breathing.

The Afghan walk is a hiking technique that allows you to cover long distances without feeling tired by coordinating the rhythm of your steps with that of your nasal breathing. It was theorised in the 1980s, based on observations made by Édouard G. Stiegler among Afghanistan’s nomadic peoples — hence the technique’s name — and described in his book Régénération par la marche afghane (Regeneration through Afghan Walking). Indeed, these nomads are capable of covering some 700 kilometres in 10 days.

This walking technique is based on coordinating the rhythm of your steps and the rhythm of your breathing. The basic pattern consists of eight steps. Inhale on three steps, hold your breath on a fourth step, exhale on three steps and then hold your breath on the fourth step. Then repeat the cycle. If the route is uphill, use a rhythm with no pauses, with two steps inhaling and two steps exhaling. Afghan walking can be practiced anywhere, in the countryside or in town, and at any time of day. It could be on the way home from work, or on the way to the shops, for example. Unlike Nordic walking, which focuses on speed and performance, this technique focuses solely on breathing. Experts recommend walking in this way for between 20 and 30 minutes, at least three times a week, to feel the positive effects.

The Afghan walk helps to oxygenate the body and make breathing easier. It increases stamina and enables you to walk for longer without getting too tired. The technique also stimulates blood circulation and tones muscles, such as those in the back and lower limbs. Bones are strengthened with each step, without causing pain or trauma to the joints.

On top of that, it’s an excellent way to take care of your mental health. Afghan walking combines walking, breathing control and meditation. It is often referred to as mindful walking, conscious walking or yoga walking, because of the importance of breathing control in this exercise. By synchronising your steps with your breathing, the flow of thoughts slows down; which has led it to be considered a form of “active mediation.”. Plus, counting in your head helps you to detach yourself from your inner worries. Your nervous system is rebalanced, promoting a feeling of relaxation and better sleep. — ETX Studio

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