We all know that exercising and a proper diet is essential if you want to keep those extra pounds from hanging around your midsection. You could spend loads of money on expensive gym memberships, but if you live in an area where there are more trails than shopping malls and 24-hour gyms, then you’re going to have to come up with other ways of exercising, like Nordic pole walking.
Nordic walking is basically walking, except you’re using poles that closely resembles the ones that cross country skiers use. This method of walking originated in Finland and it was used by cross country skiers as summer conditioning. It quickly grew in popularity throughout Europe and most recently, North America.
Interestingly, not only is this form of exercise great for conditioning and training, but Nordic pole walking has numerous health benefits!
When you’re Nordic walking, you’re going to exaggerate the swing of your arms and legs so that you’re mimicking the movement of a cross country skier. This requires the use of about 90% of your muscles in the body.
As a result, your lower body is going to get a great workout, but also so will the muscles in your back and stomach. This can also strengthen and give you more mobility in your neck and shoulders.
We already know that walking is a great way to lose weight, but when you combine that with the exaggerated swing of your arms and legs, you’re going to burn more calories—up to 20 to 46% more!
More calories being burned means you can lose more weight, which decreases your BMI. If you Nordic walk three times a week, you could lose between 1,200 to 1,500 calories per week!
Weight loss and conditioning aren’t the only health benefits of Nordic walking! Hiking in general is great for your brain function and stress relief. As your Nordic walking, you’ll be able to breathe easier (you’ll be able to take in up to 60% more oxygen than normal walking), but also have better posture and increased lateral support.
Nordic walking isn’t just for those who want to lose weight or become more flexible. Using walking poles benefits those who have been diagnosed with neurological conditions like:
The use of the poles encourages the user to focus on coordinating their gait pattern with the swing of the arms, but also makes them focus on torso rotation, the stride length, and heel strike, while maintaining proper posture.
There are numerous health benefits of Nordic walking, and if you’ve a few extra pounds, you want to become more limber, or you’re trying to deal with a disease, it is certainly a worthwhile activity to consider.
To get started on with Nordic walking, you will need a set of good trekking poles, comfortable shoes, and comfortable clothing. Depending on how far you intend on going, you may want to bring a backpack with a lunch, safety gear (you never know when something happens!) and a map and compass.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have a companion with you to chat with along the way!