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What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking (or pole walking) is a total body style of walking that can be enjoyed as a health-promoting activity, is enjoyed by more than 10 million people globally and was originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers in the 1930s.

Nordic walking combines the accessibility of walking with simultaneous core and upper body conditioning similar to Nordic skiing. Unlike when trekking or rambling, Nordic walking poles are planted behind you in order to propel you along. This engages the upper body and makes you feel lighter on your feet. The result is a moderate-intensity aerobic activity and full body workout, meaning you:

  • can burn 20–40% extra calories by using the poles (helping weight loss)
  • strengthen the large back muscles that pull the shoulder blades down releasing tension in the neck and shoulders
  • lengthen the spine so that body weight is better carried
  • correct postural muscles
  • improve the stability of the spine and pelvis
  • strengthen your back and abdominal muscles
  • could use the poles to support and guide to improve fitness as part of a rehab programme
  • improve balance and co-ordination through the added stability provided by the two poles
  • use 90% of your major muscles so your upper body gets toned as well as your legs and backside
  • improve your posture and gait
  • reduce the impact on the joints

The activity is performed with specially designed walking poles similar to ski poles. With a technique that is similar to the upper body action of classic cross country skiing, it involves applying force to the poles with each stride using your entire body with intensity. The rhythm of the arms, legs and body are similar to those used in vigorous walking. The range of arm movement regulates the length of the stride. The longer the pole thrust, the longer the stride and more powerful the swing of the pelvis and upper torso.

You’ll need a pair of Nordic walking poles which are different to those used for trekking due to how you use the strap and the angle you plant them on the ground, walking shoes and appropriate clothing. The technique and teaching of Nordic Walking are based on three main pillars:

  • Correct walking technique
  • Correct posture
  • Correct use of poles

Nordic walking can be done in any location, urban or rural, but it’s recommended that you learn the technique from a qualified instructor. Find an instructor on the websites of Nordic Walking UK (www.nordicwalking.co.uk) or British Nordic Walking (www.britishnordicwalking.org.uk).

Other benefits of Nordic walking include contributing to rehabilitation from surgery for breast cancer and to improving bone density in relation osteoporosis. International Nordic Walking Association, 2011

With thanks to www.nhs.uk

Senior Man Hiking In Countryside

Planning Physical Activity

Health and Activity Helps to -

 protect you from diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, osteoporosis and heart disease.

 control weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat.

√  improve mood and reduce depression and stress.

Types of Activity

Aerobic

Aerobic means “with oxygen”  and the purpose of aerobic conditioning is to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles which allows them to work better. Any activity that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time will improve your aerobic conditioning e.g. swimming, brisk walking, jogging, racket sports, bicycling, aerobic dancing and using aerobic equipment e.g. treadmill.

Dancing

Dancing is a weight-bearing activity and helps tone muscles, improve flexibility, makes your heart stronger and your lungs work better.

Lifestyle

To become more active throughout your day, take advantage of any opportunity to get up and move around, for example:

  • Park the car at the most distant point in the car park from the entrance to the building.
  • Walk the dog more often.
  • Walk while you talk on a mobile phone.
  • Play actively with the kids.
  • Walk the stairs instead of taking the lift.
  • Get out of your chair whenever you can at home and at work.
  • Use household chores as an exercise class.
  • Garden regularly.
  • Walk or ride a bike to work
  • Get off the bus before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way.

Water workout

Exercising in water helps increase flexibility. You can do shallow-water or deep-water exercises without being able to swim.

Walking

Probably the best activity to burn calories and increase endurance is walking. Try walking for 30 minutes each day. The faster you walk the more calories you’ll burn.

Bicycling

You can bicycle indoors on an exercise bike, or outdoors on a road bike. You could use a recumbent bike where you sit low to the ground with your legs reaching forward to the pedals (the seat on a recumbent bike is wider than the seat on an upright bike).  For biking outdoors, you may want to try a mountain bike which is heavier and has wider tyres.

Stretching

Stretching and muscle-strengthening activities e.g. weight training, use calories and strengthen muscles and bones.  Stretching helps increase  flexibility and relaxation, keeps muscles from getting tight after doing other exercises and improves blood flow. Yoga and tai chi are examples of stretching activities.

Top Tips for Better Activity

  • When you exercise early in the morning, it jump starts your metabolism and elevates it for hours meaning you’re burning calories all day long.
  • Drink lots of water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Do not do hard exercise for two hours after a big meal.
  • Wear the right clothes e.g. lightweight and loose fitting tops, good support bras for women, supportive athletic shoes for weight-bearing activities.
  • Start slowly allowing your body time to get used to new activity.
  • Allow time to slow down when coming to the end of your activity.
  • Using heat therapy with a wheat bag over tight muscles before exercise helps increase blood circulation. Heat is generally used for chronic injuries or injuries that have no inflammation or swelling.
  • Challenge yourself and celebrate every success.