Posted By Wendy Boulay
Nordic Walking – The Newest Health Trend in Fitness for All Ages!
Many people are already aware of the health benefits that walking daily for exercise can provide, but most people have not heard of Nordic Walking; the newest wave of fitness in North America, and it provides far more health benefits for all ages!
What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic walking is a total body version of regular walking, but with the addition of specialized poles that are similar to ski poles. It can be enjoyed by beginner non-athletes, as well as the more experienced active person as a sport.
The health benefits are plentiful with Nordic walking. Because the walker applies force by pushing on the poles at every stride, Nordic walkers use approximately just over 90% of their whole body, resulting in a more intense full body workout. Nordic walking stimulates all of the major muscles in the body, and because of this many doctors are agreeing that it is one of the most effective cardiovascular exercises a person can do to maximize their fitness levels. Recently, a study was performed by the Cooper Institute in Dallas and the results showed that Nordic walking burned more calories, increased oxygen consumption, and can be up to 46% more efficient that regular walking!* Here are just a few of the benefits and condition that Nordic walking can improve**:
- Improve Balance, Stability, and Posture
- Strengthen your Back, Neck, and Shoulders
- Improve your Cardiovascular system and power
- Prevent and combat Fibromyalgia
- Prevent and combat Diabetes
- Combat High Blood Pressure
- Prevent and combat Arthritis
- Prevent and combat Osteoporosis
- Improve Vascular Conditions
- Increase Caloric Expenditure to combat Obesity
- Prevent and combat Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
- Prevent and combat other Chronic diseases
And many more!
Approximate Body Usage %
- Treadmill or Bike 35%
- Jogging/Walking (no poles) 65%
- Nordic Walking 90% +
One of the great aspects to Nordic walking, other than the endless health benefits of course, is that it is not an expensive sport. Essentially the equipment you need is a good pair of shoes and your poles!
- Shoes – While some companies are beginning to create a shoe specifically for Nordic walking, this is not necessary. If you are a beginner, you might want to opt for a good quality walking shoe; a running shoe is made to land differently on your feet, while a walking show is developed for the heel to toe landing. You can use a Nordic walking shoe or a running shoe as you improve your gait and speed if you prefer.
- Poles – Choosing the correct pole for your height is imperative in order to reap the full benefits that Nordic walking has to offer. Currently there are 2 main types of poles which are fixed length and adjustable. These can vary greatly in materials but most are made of either carbon, aluminum, or a carbon/aluminum combination. All of them vary in weight so it is best for you to try them out in store before purchasing either in person or online. The poles have a special hand strap that is imperative for Nordic walking – which is why using ski poles would not work effectively. Many people purchase lower quality and more affordable poles to start with and eventually upgrade to a higher quality light-weight pole with more shock absorbency and a better hand strap system (ie: Leki trigger) as they improve. All poles usually come with rubber feet for use on concrete, which you can easily remove to reveal a metal tip for snow, ice, or dirt trails.
Mastering the Nordic walking technique is relatively easy to do with time. Before you begin, ensure that your shoulders are relaxed and down, while maintaining good posture (don’t worry, your poles will help to keep this form) Your pole height should be about 65% of your body height, while creating a 90 degree angle with your arm. The Nordic walk mimics your natural walking style with the support of your poles. Begin by walking and allow your arms to swing naturally while the poles are dragging behind you – following your arms as they swing forward. When you are comfortable with your pace (walking too slow might prove difficult for coordination) begin grasping your poles as you walk. After a few hundred yards, when your left foot touches the ground use your right arm to push your poles strongly into the ground. Continue vice-versa. You are now Nordic walking!
Nordic walking is for all ages and all fitness levels! Why not give it a try and start improving your overall health today!
**From the book “The Ultimate Nordic Pole Walking Book” by Klaus Schwanbeck