Nordic walking is an enhanced form of natural walking using special poles designed to engage your legs and upper body providing a total body workout. Research has shown that whether or not you have health considerations, Nordic walking helps to improve your physical functioning in many ways.
Widespread in Europe and becoming popular in Canada since the mid nineties, Nordic walking is suitable for people of all ages and abilities and can help with rehabilitation of injuries and chronic conditions.
Unlike hiking poles which are used for stability, Nordic walking poles have small rubber boots or paws on the bottom that the walker pushes against to propel forward, resulting in great upper body benefits.
Easy to learn and simple to do, however proper instruction the first time out will help ensure you are getting the most from your technique. Consider joining a group or working with an instructor to learn about the proper placement of the poles to achieve the optimal effect on your upper body muscles.
Benefits of Nordic walking include:
- Improves your posture, balance and co-ordination which is beneficial and safe for those with peripheral neuropathy in the feet.
- Activates your core muscles and improves core and trunk strength which is beneficial in reducing lower back pain and improving bladder control.
- Improves lymph system function and reduces incidence of lymphedema onset (It is also safe for people with lymphedema provided a compression sleeve is worn during exercise)
- Increases your upper limb range of motion and muscle endurance, especially after breast cancer surgery.
- Provides a full body workout involving 90% of all muscles in the body.
- Increases upper body muscle usage by 95% compared to walking without poles.
- Increases your heart rate and caloric expenditure without making you feel that you are working that much harder. The perceived exertion is similar to that of normal walking, but you burn 30% more calories.
- Maintains whole-body bone density which is extremely important to reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
- Reduces joint stress, especially in the knees, feet and hips – important for anyone with arthritis, painful hips or knees, and other conditions where pain has prevented them from walking in the past.
- Improves heart and lung function, overall physical capacity and fitness. Nordic walking is a great way to improve your cardiovascular functioning, which has been shown to be important in long-term cancer survival and prevention of recurrence of some cancers.
And you’ll be left with a feeling of joy and a sense of accomplishment! Try it with friends or join a group in your area.