Stepping out of your front door for a brisk walk in the fresh air is a wonderful way to take a break, get in some gentle exercise, connect with nature and feel the stresses of the day fade away. However, if you’re looking to raise your energy levels, then Nordic Walking is the perfect exercise for any person able to walk. It’s easy to learn and there is no expensive equipment or clothing necessary.
Great exercise for individuals of any age or fitness level…
As fitness activities go Nordic Walking is great exercise for individuals of any age or fitness level – even for non-athletic types and individuals who dislike the gym or traditional sporting activities. You can vary the intensity in line with individual needs, so even if you haven’t exercised in a while you can you can start by walking on level surfaces and build up to varied terrain, gradually increasing your walking speed and arm swinging. With correct use of the poles, effort is shared between the upper and lower body so it actually feels easier than normal walking, particularly uphill. The poles take the weight off the knees and lower joints making it a suitable activity for: people with joint conditions; people who may be carrying some extra body weight; and individuals recovering from illness or injury. The poles can be used to support and guide you while you work to improve your fitness or as part of your rehabilitation. For anyone concerned with balance or mobility issues, you’re much more stable when you use poles, because you have more ground contact points and you’re not relying on two feet alone.
Walking with Nordic poles burns more calories and works more muscles than conventional walking.
Regular walking is of course not without it’s benefits, however, if we look at it comparatively; regular walking only activates the muscles below the waist, working less than 50% of your body’s muscle mass; whereas Nordic Walking combines cardiovascular exercise with a muscle workout for all of the upper body too, working over 90% of your body’s total muscle mass and providing a substantial calorie-burning benefit. If you’d like to shed a few pounds, Nordic walking burns up to 46% more calories than regular walking (depending upon the intensity of the activity) and it’s great exercise for increasing core stability, strengthening back and abdominal muscles, and toning the upper arms, shoulders and back muscles.
Unlike trekking, hill walking or trail running, Nordic Walking requires a specific fitness technique that mimics the upper body motion of cross-country skiing – in fact the activity was originally designed as a summer training routine for cross-country skiers. The poles aren’t simply planted in front of you they are moved in a specific way, which harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk. This technic uses more energy and yet it feels easier with practice.
Technique # 1: Single Poling
Single poling mimics what your feet are doing, moving one pole in front of you for every stride. Do this either with the same-side arm and leg together or with the opposite arm and leg together, ensuring that the pole and foot are always striking and propelling at the same time. Its personal preference as to whether the pole and foot are on the same side or the opposite side.
Technique # 2: Double Poling
Double poling involves planting both poles symmetrically in front of you and pulling yourself forward as you walk a few steps. You double pole and then walk three steps… double pole; one, two, three… double pole; one, two, three… and so on.
There are so many benefits to Nordic Walking:
- It’s a whole body exercise, which activates 90% of the body’s muscles and burns up to 46% more calories than regular walking
- The aerobic effect is increased by up to 25% compared to regular walking
- It decreases load and strain on the lower body
- It improves lateral mobility of the spine
- It increases core stability and strength
- It tones the upper arms, shoulders and back muscles
- It helps to release tension in your neck and shoulders
- It improves posture and gait.
Nordic walking can be a great social activity too. It can be done anytime, anywhere and enjoyed all year round. It’s a highly effective all over workout that doesn’t feel like one… so you’ll be happy to walk further for longer!
- Plan a walking route. You can walk on level surfaces or on varied terrain — anything from sidewalks to parks, grassy fields or walking trails.
- Dress comfortably. Wear clothing that allows lots of arm swinging and a good pair of trainers or walking boots.
- Stay hydrated. Take a bottle of water with you if you intend to go out for any length of time, particularly in warm weather.