04 Jul Nordic Walking your way to a healthier lifestyle
We are all well versed in the vast benefits of walking, but ‘What is Nordic Walking?’ and, more importantly ‘How can it help me?
Nordic Walking has gained lots of popularity in the past years. More and more people enjoy the benefits of using two poles while walking.
‘It’s not just easier to walk with poles but you’ll also feel that you work your whole body by using the poles’ says Lorraine, a Nordic Walking enthusiast herself. ‘People might look at me funny when I walk down the streets with my poles; I don’t care because I just feel so much safer and better for it. Nordic Walking has become part of my daily routine – it’s an all in one activity’.
Nordic Walking uses specially designed poles to create a low stress total body workout which delivers profoundly greater benefits than regular walking. It is a weight bearing activity that gives fantastic aerobic fitness, body conditioning and weight loss benefits but without the pain and strain to the lower body.
It originated as a form of summer training for competitive cross country skiers in Scandinavia (hence the name), however the evolved form is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Scientific studies have proven the following benefits of Nordic Walking:
- activates 90% of the body’s muscles
- gives a 20-25% greater cardio fitness benefit than regular walking
- burns up to 46% more calories compared to regular walking without poles
- decreases the weight load and impact on the joints of the lower body
- strengthens as well as tones the upper back, core and shoulders
- gives a more intense workout but with lower perceived exertion
- increases the lateral mobility of the spine
- releases pain and muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
- promotes upright and balanced walking posture
- improves co-ordination
The combination of these benefits make Nordic Walking a ‘wonder’ exercise for people suffering from a wide variety of health problems such as diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis as well as for older persons who are at risk of falling. In Europe where the Nordic Walking movement is years ahead, Nordic walking is accepted and promoted enthusiastically by the medical and health professions: insurance companies offer reduced premiums for people who Nordic Walk; rehabilitation clinics use Nordic Walking as a core form of therapy; and doctors ‘prescribe’ Nordic Walking as medical treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
Joanna, now a passionate Nordic Walker, says: “I was overcoming injury which limited my ability to be active. When I saw that Nordic Walking would allow me to remain active while supporting my injuries, I was keen to take part.”
Nordic Walking in organised or social groups can cater for participants of varying levels of fitness because the intensity of a Nordic Walking session is determined by the use of the upper body more so than by the tempo of the walk – therefore each person can exercise at the intensity suitable for them. For the more serious fitness goers there are variations of Nordic Walking, (eg. Nordic jogging, uphill striding and double pole actions), which create high intensity training sessions – these are definitely not for the faint- hearted!
While Nordic Walking can be done anywhere and is very suitable to Australia’s landscape, some people still feel, Nordic Walking should be done where it comes from – in the European Alps.
16 people made it their mission to be equipped to participate in a unique Nordic Walking tour in Patrick’s homeland of the Austrian Alps back in June. They all had started Nordic Walking at different times, some of them only got into Nordic Walking to experience a different side to Austria and surrounding countries.
Together over ten days they explored the local Grosses Walsertal valley in western Austria, taking in its spectacular mountains, spring lake, alpine meadows, traditional culture and breathtaking scenery. They also experienced first-hand why the UNESCO recognised the area as a model Biosphere Reserve.
‘We truly experienced the sound of music, by Nordic Walking in Faschina and through the hills’, one participant said.
‘In addition to the daily guided Nordic Walks the participants indulged in other local activities and attractions. ‘We visited authentic working alpine dairies and museums, the more daring of us went on a high ropes garden, others enjoyed scrumptious afternoon coffee & cakes.
This trip left all of us feeling completely rejuvenated and ‘on top of the world’ both in body and in mind’.
Whether Nordic Walking is done to exercise or ‘just’ as an excuse to get to the Alps, it’s an enjoyable, social and over all very healthy activity to get into. What’s more, it is an activity that is accessible, affordable, kind to the body and makes you feel great – just watch out… it is also rather addictive!
About the Author
Maree Farnsworth is an internationally qualified Master Trainer in Nordic Walking and is passionate about sharing the enjoyment and benefits of Nordic walking with others. She is the co-founder of Nordic Academy, Australia’s Nordic Walking professionals providing Nordic walking training, equipment and resources to the health and fitness industries and to the general public.
For more information on Nordic Walking or to become an instructor, contact Nordic Academy on 1300 791 740 or visit their website: www.nordicacademy.com.au.