The Afghan Walk: A Holistic Practice for Body and Mind

afghan walking in the terrain

The Afghan walk is a unique technique combining physical activity and mental focus, offering a range of benefits for your body and mind. Inspired by the nomadic people of Afghanistan, this practice allows you to easily cover long distances by harmonizing your steps with your breath. In this article, we will explore the principles and advantages of the Afghan walk.

Please note that no significant scientific research specifically focused on "Afghan walking" to support the specific claims regarding its benefits. Coordinating walking with breathing and its potential benefits to physical and mental well-being is not unique to Afghan walking. Similar practices like yoga or mindful walking have been studied to some extent, and their benefits have been explored in research.

The Origin and Theory

The concept of the Afghan walk was first introduced in the 1980s by Édouard G. Stiegler, who observed the remarkable abilities of Afghanistan's nomadic tribes. Stiegler's observations and insights were documented in his book Régénération par la marche afghane (Regeneration through Afghan Walking)."

These nomads were found to traverse astonishing distances, often covering around 700 kilometers in just ten days. The essence of the Afghan walk lies in the coordination of steps with breathing patterns.

The Fundamental Technique

At the core of Afghan walking is a simple yet effective pattern involving eight steps. Begin by inhaling over three steps, then hold your breath for the fourth step. Next, exhale over three steps, followed by another breath-holding on the fourth step. This cycle is then repeated. For uphill terrain, maintain a continuous rhythm with two steps for inhalation and two steps for exhalation.

Practical Application

One of the remarkable aspects of Afghan walking is its flexibility. You can practice it anywhere – whether in the countryside, a bustling urban environment, or any time of the day. It can be integrated into your daily routine, such as during your commute to work or while running errands.

Benefits for the Body

Unlike other walking techniques focusing on speed and performance, Afghan walking prioritizes mindful breathing. Experts recommend dedicating at least 20 to 30 minutes to this practice thrice weekly to experience its positive effects.

This approach helps to oxygenate your body, making breathing more effortless. It enhances endurance, allowing you to walk longer distances without experiencing excessive fatigue.

Additionally, it promotes blood circulation and tones muscles, particularly those in the back and lower limbs, all while strengthening bones without causing joint pain or trauma.

Benefits for the Mind

The Afghan walk extends beyond physical fitness; it nurtures mental well-being by incorporating walking, breath control, and meditation.

Often referred to as mindful walking, conscious walking, or yoga walking, this technique emphasizes the importance of regulating your breath during the exercise. By synchronizing your steps with your breath, the incessant flow of thoughts slows down, turning Afghan walking into active meditation.

Counting your steps helps you distance yourself from inner worries, resulting in a balanced nervous system, increased relaxation, and improved sleep quality.


Incorporating the Afghan walk into your routine can be a holistic approach to improving your physical and mental well-being. This practice, rooted in the wisdom of Afghan nomads, offers a simple yet effective way to enhance your health and mindfulness.

The Afghan walk is a valuable technique whether you want to stay fit, reduce stress, or enjoy a mindful stroll.


  1. Bigliassi M, Galano BM, Lima-Silva AE, Bertuzzi R. Effects of mindfulness on psychological and psychophysiological responses during self-paced walking. Psychophysiology. 2020;57(4):e13529. doi:10.1111/psyp.13529
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  3. Creswell JD, Lindsay EK, Villalba DK, Chin B. Mindfulness Training and Physical Health: Mechanisms and Outcomes. Psychosom Med. 2019 Apr;81(3):224-232. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000675. PMID: 30806634; PMCID: PMC6613793.
  4. Creswell, J. & Lindsay, Emily & Villalba, Daniella & Chin, Brian. (2019). Mindfulness Training and Physical Health: Mechanisms and Outcomes. Psychosomatic Medicine. 81. 1. 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000675. 
  5. Nymberg, P., Calling, S., Stenman, E. et al. Effect of mindfulness on physical activity in primary healthcare patients: a randomised controlled trial pilot study. Pilot Feasibility Stud 7, 70 (2021).

basabendra chattopadhyay


Basabendra Chattopadhyay

Meet Basabendra, a distinguished health and fitness luminary whose expertise spans the realms of fitness, technology, and marathon running. With a solid foundation in science through his graduation, Basabendra has harnessed his knowledge to become a prolific author, contributing numerous articles to a wide array of prestigious publications. Beyond his scholarly pursuits, he is also an avid marathon runner, successfully completing multiple marathons and using his personal experiences to inspire others in their pursuit of a healthy and active lifestyle.

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