Benefits of Nordic Walking
Nordic Walking began as ski walking in the 1930‘s in Finland as an off-season training method for cross country skiers.
Later on people started to use Nordic Pole Walking as a general physical activity like walking or jogging but this new sport allowed the participant to exercise their whole body at the same time with little equipment needed.
For Walking Nordic Walking instructions see the Nordic Walking Video below.
By the late ’90’s the Nordic Walking Pole was being developed to accommodate the casual athlete and the sport was gaining in popularity all over Europe.
Now the Nordic Walk is emerging as a popular new sport in North America because of the full body benefits that all persons who participate experience.
Because the poles provide stability and safety for walkers with balance, knee, hip, or leg problems; everyone from those with walking difficulties to the fitness elite and the very young to the aged are finding that Nordic Walking is suitable and effective.
Nordic Walking has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, balance, coordination, visual skills, muscular endurance, power and agility. It even reduces the pressure on your knees and joints.
Nordic Walking can burn up to 46% more calories than regular walking which shows a significant correlation between Nordic Walking and weight loss.
Nordic Walking Technique
The technique of walking with poles and maintaining relaxed shoulders as well as keeping the poles behind your body and using a full range of motion releases stress carried in the shoulders and has been reported to improve neck, shoulder, and back problems.
This activity used by Nordic Walkers can help you overcome the slouching, neck and shoulder pain from being stuck at a desk all day.
Nordic Walking has been shown to increase upper body mobility and upper body muscle strength and endurance by 38% in just twelve weeks. Nordic Walking has also been shown to be an effective activity for cardiac rehabilitation.
“Nordic Walking is a great fun activity and found that my technique improved each week.
My hips and back are greatly improved and I can feel the benefits to my heart and lungs. My breathing is much better and I am walking much more upright, for longer periods, with more confidence and with better balance too. I also have much more energy to do my day to day things…” ~ Molly, 73 yr old participant of AgeCymru UK
Using the Nordic Walking poles you will be able walk at a faster speed, but it is a lower impact on your knee joint then just walking alone. The walking poles propel you along so you can more easily move faster without the effort.
Nordic Walking poles come with different tips so you can use them everywhere, country hillside or city streets.
Outside exercise has been proven to boost mood by reducing stress levels, anger, fatigue, and depression.
Learning how to Nordic Walk will increase the heart rate more than just walking which means you can get the same cardio benefit as you would from jogging without having to jog.
When Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) was measured and compared with normal style of walking there was no increase in the Nordic Walking RPE.
Nordic Walking Calories
This means that even though the aerobic power and heart rate were significantly greater when walking with poles compared to walking without poles the Nordic Walkers were able to burn significantly more calories without feeling like they worked harder.
It is a time efficient, total body, low stress workout. By using the specific technique of arm swinging and pole planting this entire body workout uses 90% of the skeletal muscles.
How to Nordic Walk
- Shoulders are relaxed and down.
- Poles are held close to the body.
- Hands are opened slightly to allow the poses to swing forward – the poles are not gripped but swing from the wrist straps.
- Leading foot strikes the ground.
- Opposite arm swings forward to waist height.
- Opposite pole strikes the ground level with the heel of the opposite foot.
- Poles remain pointing diagonally backwards, they are never in front of the body.
- Push the pole as far back as possible, the arm straightening to form a continuous line with the fully extended arm, the hand opening off the grip by the end of the arm swing.
- Foot rolls through the step to push off with the toe, this lengthens the stride behind the body, getting the most out of each stride.
- Arm motion is loose and relaxed
keeping the arms relaxed and keeping the poles behind the body are key elements in the proper technique. Here is a really great instructional video on how to Nordic Walk.