For good samadhi and good health, 30min daily walking isn't enough

I found that even doing 2-4 hours daily of some combination of walking meditation and taiji and hiking (easy flat terrain and casual pace) daily for many many years, just isn’t enough, and that the force of some jogging (or other intense cardio) and at least 30min of sustained elevated heart rate, deep breathing, sweating is required to start dissolving more of the lower back spine blockage.

If I could go back in time, after decades of meditation, I see now that I could have prevented a lot of energy blockages from forming or getting worse, by doing one simple thing. Making sure I get at least 30min of sustained cardio (more than a brisk walk) in one session in one day, and 30 min of daily resistance weight training. No complicated equipment or space needed. Even if you’re living in a cave in the Himalayas and it’s snowing outside, you can jog in place gently enough so you don’t pound your knees and lower back, but vigorous enough that your heart rate is elevated beyond a brisk walk, your breathing is very full and deep, you are sweating some.

For about 5 years now, I’ve been doing about a single session 10-15min a day of gentle jogging. But the past few months, I’ve been doing 30min in one session, and it makes a big difference. The places in my body where energy channels aren’t opened very well, 15 min wasn’t enough, but 30 min I can feel the blockages are slowly starting to dissolve.

Too much detail to explain quickly, so I’ll add more over time. But I wanted to share this important discovery, I could have saved myself a lot of problems by doing at least 30min in a single session of sustained cardio daily.

Unfortunately people are stupid and lazy, and need the motivation of injury or something severe to change their ways. If you develop the habit early of 30min cardio and 30 min resistive weight training (don’t need a gym or fancy weight machines, just do pushups, pull ups, chores around the house, wiping down floors on your hand and knees will work out whole body very well for example). You’re going to save yourself so many problems when and if you get old.

I knew the importance of diet and exercise and an early age, but the mistake I made was thinking that a couple hours a day of walking, taiji, yoga was enough. It’s not enough, because we are upright walkers, with gravity and lymphatic system biasing our circulation in a way that blood/energy/qi doesn’t get fully circulated in the whole body unless there is sustained vigorous muscular contractions.

Mayo clinic recommended daily cardio and weight training

mayo clinic

How much should the average adult exercise every day?

Answers from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines:

Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.

Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running and aerobic dancing. Strength training can include use of weight machines, your own body weight, resistance tubing, resistance paddles in the water, or activities such as rock climbing.

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Want to aim even higher? You can achieve more health benefits, including increased weight loss, if you ramp up your exercise to 300 minutes a week.

Reducing sitting time is important, too. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of metabolic problems, even if you achieve the recommended amount of daily physical activity.

Short on long chunks of time? Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can’t fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. What’s most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

ajahn sumedho 60min daily vigorous cardio rowing machine

I remember a time when Ajahn Sumedho was hav-

ing heart problems. He was close to sixty and had been

a monk for thirty years. He was strapped up to a gad-

get so that his heart rate could be recorded for a week

or so. When the doctors reviewed the results of the test,

they noticed a pattern that they found bewildering. At the same time every night, Ajahn Sumedho’s heart rate

went up extremely quickly and stayed fast for about an

hour, before returning to normal. It turned out that he

was getting up at two in the morning to exercise for an

hour on his rowing machine. He then showered and sat in meditation for two hours. This is another wonderful example of Ajahn Sumedho’s commitment to training.


Here’s a great technique to make this into a daily life long habit.

You’re going to spend 30 min a day doing chanting, reading suttas anyway right? Well just make sure as you’re doing that, you get 30 min of more intense cardio. If you don’t have suttas memorized, put on a dhamma talk, or listen do an audio sutta, make a play list for 30 min.

Then for the 30 min resistive weight training, a simple thing You can do, is what I call 4x4 walking. This takes pressure off your vertebrae, especially your upper body weight compressing down all the vertebrae into your lower spine. And it works as a multi angled push up.
Look at the short video clips in the walk4xr4 subdirectory:
Just throw in different types as pushups every so often.

Again, you can just chant suttas, listen to a dhamma talk or audio sutta.

Once you form a good habit, it’s just like eating and going to the bathroom, or breathing. You just do it naturally and don’t feel any aversion to doing it.

You’ve got about 75 trillion cells in your body, billions of them die each day, and they have different life spans. Just as you need to eat and crap every day, every one of those 75 trillion cells needs to eat and crap. And the way they do that is mostly through the fluids pumped by muscular contraction by the lymphatic system. Blood only gets to a small percentage of your cells, and it gets circulated by the heart. The heart doesn’t pump the lymph fluid, that depends on you getting good physical exercise and muscular contractions.

So when you don’t do this 60 min daily intensified cardio, it’s like of the 75 trillion cells in your “self”, a bunch of them aren’t getting fed properly and have blocked plumbing and unable to pipe out their crap. That’s a very bad situation, and over time you’re going to feel it. Take some time to observe the older monastics, your parents, your older relatives. That’s what’s going to happen to you if you don’t do daily good maintenance on your 75 trillion cells.

And keep in mind the old, infirm, suffering, there’s a lot of pain and suffering that they keep quiet about because they don’t want to whine and bring people down. So things are going to get worse as you age, it’s probably going to be worse than you think. If you do the daily 60 min advised in this thread, you’re going to save yourself so much future pain.


Thanks. Interesting. From experience, I have found the combination of exercise (have a rowing machine that folds up and an exercise bike at home) and a set of headphones to be a good use of time (kills two birds with the one stone :slight_smile: ). I can’t say I’ve chanted, but it’s easy to put recordings of suttas or dhamma talks onto the ipod. Audio is good when commuting too (and a ebook reader is pretty viable also and easy to carry around when not driving and on a train or bus). I don’t do hugely long sessions (maybe about 40 minutes in a session, but try to have my heart pounding at a good rate by the end). Haven’t really done much in the way of weight training lately though (have done that though in the periods I’ve been signed up to actual gyms: the machines there make it very convenient). Might be no harm to throw in a little of that I guess (get a set of dumbells or use a few bean cans! :wink: ).


For me this is the key point, finding ways to make physical activity part of your daily routine. The best thing I did was getting rid of my car, and therefore walking and cycling regularly - though I could be doing more! The impression I have is many people these days are doing very little in the way of physical activity, which is no doubt contributing to the obesity epidemic in the west.


For mediators who do a lot of sitting especially (many hours a day), getting 30 min per day minimum of more intense cardio than just casual mindful walking is important.

Another important thing to do exercises that incorporate backbending range of motion. Such as in the video directory for 4x4walking of Vladamir doing yoga posture “wheel” pushups. A gentler thing to do is backbend while standing using the wall behind you (a couple of feet) as a support so it only puts a fraction of your body weight.

Another great thing to do is using a pull up bar (hanging on it) and doing leg raises. This will strengthen your front core, and loosen lower back.

The mayo clinic guideline of so many minutes per week I don’t think is a good idea for people who have sedentary days and other days with all the minutes piled in. Just as you wouldn’t eat 3 days worth of food in one meal and fast for 2.9 days. Your body can’t assimimate all those nutrients in one sitting. Similarly, you need to be getting physical exercise regularly throughtout the day, as @Martin pointed out.

If you’re a sedentary office worker, make a point of every hour doing like 20 pushups or something. Especially if any body part is getting sore or uncomfortable.

Preferably two birds made of tofu or wheat gluten. Or chopping two pieces of tofu with one slice. :slight_smile:


Feeding two birds with one scone? :laughing:


Hi Frank

Have you got any ideas on how to get pulling/pull ups into a routine without the use of any equipment?

Thanks :slight_smile:


Also, if anyone’s interested, I’ve always thought Feldenkrais and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy are two forms of practise, the former being something you can do on your own with a CD/ipod, that compliment Buddhist practise by increasing our awareness and mindfulness. They would certainly complement any system of physical training that was more arduous - indeed, it would require significant body awareness to do the Scorpian Walk! :slight_smile:

Thanks for this very useful topic Frank!


If you have a lot of trees around, you can grab a branch at a suitable height. Watch out for bugs though.

If there’s a stairway, often on the sides you can find a stair at teh right height and grab on. Not as easy to grip as a pull up bar.

You can do an angled pull up using a table or desk. Crouch under table, straighten out body at an angle facing the bottom of the table, grab on the edge of the desk, pull up.

For 4x4 walking, if you’re referring to that animal walking video, they show some clever and challenging things to do, but I would caution some of those moves are challenging and stressful on joints. In my own practice I do very simple and slower 4x4 walking. If you can picture break dancing in slow motion taiji style and speed, and mostly crawling around forwards, backwards, side to side, in circles, but knees off ground (compared to baby that crawls with knees touching ground)

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Okay, so you’re virtually lying under the table? But at a slight angle?


Apparently this site has some good (and similar programs) which I may try…

Interesting BBC report here: Give your bones a workout, public told - BBC News


yes. so step by step, it’s kind of like this:

  1. lie on your back on floor under the table, your head near the table edge.
  2. grab edge of the table, pull yourself up.
  3. you don’t have to have your whole body and legs like a straight blank, you can experiment with different bent leg and foot placement and affect what part of your back gets worked out.
  4. another way to add variation to this is you don’t have to pull up straight up and down. You can zig zag up, or use circular motions in different planes.

A similar exercise to this one would be standing up, bending forward so your body is parallel to the ground, and using a couple of dumbells and pulling them toward you.

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I do some press-ups every day, but apart from that I find it difficult to do repetitive exercise - I just find it boring and I can’t get motivated. However I took up kayaking last year, which is good upper-body exercise but also something I actually enjoy doing.

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It definitely helps a lot if you enjoy the exercise. Kayaking, jump roping like a champion boxer, biking, etc, is great, but there are times you don’t have equipment, and it’s good to have as many tools in your kit so you always have something that works. The 4x4 walking is actually pretty fun, it’s like playing twister, doing cartwheels, breakdancing in slow motion when you play around and experiment with angles and rotation, crossing your feet forwards, backwards, crossing arms, barrel rolling, etc. Or doing improv hatha yoga.


Thank you so much Bhante. Give me opportunity to learn more about dhamma.
With respect

Hi, I’m not sure which message you were replying to, but if you were replying to any of my messages in this thread, I’m a layperson yogi. Often we can’t tell by the username and their photo if they’re ordained monastics. @frankk is my lay person name, and I’m not a monk. Anything I write should be examined critically and skeptically. That applies to anything we read from anyone. Always question authority :slight_smile:


I should be getting more exercise now as I have just bought an old Laser sailing dinghy. They are quite fast, but you have to move around a lot. :yum:

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