Nordic Walking: How to do it, Benefits, and More
Have you ever heard of Nordic walking? It's a way of getting exercise while enjoying the outdoors, as you use two specially designed poles and a specific walking technique.
Whether you’re new to Nordic walking or a seasoned pro, we’ve got everything you need to know about the exercise. In this article, we will explain what it is, how it differs from other forms of walking and when you should do it to get the best results.
What is Nordic Walking?
Gill Stewart, the programme director at Nordic Walking UK and author of The Complete Guide to Nordic Walking, says:
“Nordic walking is a form of exercise that can be done anywhere. You don’t need any special equipment or clothing, although I recommend wearing proper footwear, as it will help to protect your feet from injury and give you better balance.”
Who Should Try Nordic Walking?
Nordic walking is a fun, convenient way to exercise. You can do it almost anywhere with only simple equipment — a pair of lightweight trekking poles and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. This low-impact exercise is easy on the joints and muscles and is suitable for most people.
This fitness activity can be done by anyone, regardless of age or physical fitness level. It can be modified to suit your needs and goals. You can join clubs and find Nordic walking trails, or practice alone. What's most important is to be properly equipped and to master the basic principles of Nordic walking.
To get the same cardio effect as jogging but without the perceived exertion, try Nordic walking. You will get a better workout without feeling like you have worked any harder.
Some of the health benefits of Nordic walking are:
1) Works Upper Body
It strengthens the arms, shoulders, upper chest, and back muscles through a full range of motion.
The motion is designed to combat the hunching posture many people adopt while working at desks and computers, reading, or watching TV. It also loosens up any knots in the neck and shoulder muscles.
2) Improves Posture
Walking poles are useful for people who have balance, knee or leg problems. Proper use of the poles and arm motion encourages good posture, and many people who give up walking for pleasure find that they can walk comfortably with a walking pole.
3) Relaxes Shoulders
Walking with the correct Nordic walking technique — using relaxed shoulders, keeping the poles behind the body, and using a full range of motion — is a great antidote to the slouching many people do over desks and computers.
4) Total Body Workout
Adding an upper body workout can increase calorie burning by 10-20% without feeling like the walker is exercising any harder. Nordic walking is a total body workout without making you feel like you're working harder than just walking.
5) Boosts Heart Health
As it turns out, Nordic walking is a great way to help improve heart health — and that's true whether you have heart disease or not.
In fact, just a couple times a week, this activity can help build endurance and stamina, which means less risk of heart attacks or other cardiovascular events.
6) Reduces risk of injury
Nordic walking is a great way to help prevent falls, as noted by experts. For anyone dealing with fragility or balance issues, it can be an amazing tool.
Nordic Walking Techniques
To do a Nordic walk, use both poles to walk while planting them symmetrically in front of you. Pull yourself forward a few steps; switch your hands, and repeat the pattern. Follow that by walking without poles for three steps.
If you’re struggling with your cross-country skiing technique, try single poling. To use this technique, use one pole for each stride.
Work with the same-side arm and leg together or with the opposite arm and leg together. The pole and the foot should always be striking and propelling forward at the same time.
How Often Should You Walk?
Experts say that any amount of activity is better than being sedentary. For most healthy adults, the sweet spot for exercise is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, which can be divided up in whichever way you feel comfortable.
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your fitness routine, consider heading outdoors and giving Nordic walking a try. It has been shown to be both effective and efficient in improving general health while toning muscles and burning calories.
There are few other forms of exercise that can be enjoyed by both beginners and experts alike. Don’t worry: it won’t make you look like you’re walking on stilts.