Walking outdoors in the green spaces offers many health benefits which can be increased further by using special Nordic Walking poles and technique.
What does Nordic Walking achieve beyond ordinary walking?
Nordic Walking is a whole body exercise, using 90% of the body’s muscle groups.
By using the muscles in the upper body as well as the lower body, you can go faster and achieve the recommended levels of activity set down by Public Health England. This means it can also improve upper body strength and flexibility. It increases the heart rate slightly, making it an ideal activity for anyone who has enjoyed walking and is now seeking to gently increase their fitness.
Nordic Walking using the INWA 10-Step Method can help you burn about 20% more calories than ordinary walking, helping you lose weight more quickly.
This helps to increase the rate at which participants lose weight with consequent improvements in conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which are sadly, becoming more common for the middle aged adult.
Nordic Walking spreads the body weight across four limbs instead of just two legs.
The middle aged adult often starts to develop joint pain. Nordic Walking reduces the impact (both compression and shear forces) on lower body joints, making exercise more achievable by people with arthritis in the knees and hips, or with other conditions that affect the lower limbs.
Participants see an improvement in their posture and gait, as well as feeling a release of tension in the neck and shoulders. Each muscle is doing a small amount of work, so you don’t get muscle aches either.
Nordic Walking uses poles as an integral part of the walking technique.
The poles are useful for participants who have problems with stability because of old age, a physical or mental condition, or medication that they are taking, acting as a physical and psychological support as they gain confidence in developing their walking technique.
By pushing firmly on the poles in a rhythmical motion, Nordic Walkers say they can get rid of stress and frustration, in addition to all the other mental health benefits we know about for exercising outside.
Nordic Walking gives a better level of exercise than ordinary walking whilst not feeling any more difficult (known as a low Rate of Perceived Exertion).
This makes Nordic Walking more attractive to people who do not perceive themselves to be “exercisers” and encourages participants to increase their level of activity without it feeling too strenuous.
Whilst being a simple activity in practice, Nordic Walking is a technique that needs to be learned and practiced.
This means that a group of Nordic Walkers can develop their confidence and self-esteem by supporting and encouraging each other. It gives a strong sense of satisfaction as the technique is mastered and allows for progress for those seeking it. We recommend people learn from an INWA (International Nordic Walking Federation) instructor (www.britishnordicwalking.org.uk)
Thank you to Catherine Hughes, British Nordic Walking National Trainer for England, for putting this great overview of the extra benefits of Nordic Walking.