Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Do you want to get more out of your walking? Would you like to burn up to 50% more calories as you walk without working harder. If the answer to these two questions is yes then you might consider walking with lightweight aluminium Nordic Poles or walking sticks.
Walking with sticks will give you support, increase safety by helping your balance especially on uneven ground and reduce stress on your knees, muscles and ligaments. You will burn about 400 calories per hour walking with poles compared to about 280 calories walking. This is a worthwhile increase in calorie consumption. For walkers who are overweight using sticks reduces stress on the knee joints.
Walking with poles will improve your cardio-vascular fitness,help maintain your overall bone density,improve your posture and balance and strengthen your abdominal, chest, back and shoulder muscles. You will get twice the benefit from your walk by using sticks and will build more fitness in less time. Using poles will increase your stride length and pace as the muscles in the upper body are used to propel you forward.
These poles are constructed from lightweight aluminium and can be bought in two different types - adjustable or non adjustable. They are readily available from sports shops. If you plan to share your poles with someone else or need to transport them in luggage, adjustable poles are ideal otherwise non-adjustable poles will suffice.
There is no special technique in using walking poles.Practise walking and swinging your arms at the same time. When you swing notice the pull on your stomach, shoulder and back muscles. When you can do this movement effectively experiment with your poles. Poles should be held behind you and point diagonally backwards. They should never be in front of the body. Grip your pole in a relaxed manner and adjust the wrist straps Relax your shoulders; hold the poles close to your body. Move your arms from the shoulders and off you go!
All poles are fitted with adjustable wrist straps which will help you to grip the poles loosely. The correct height for your poles can be determined by making a right angle at the elbow with your upper and lower arm. Keep your upper arm perpendicular to the ground and stretch out your lower arm until it is parallel to the ground. Stand the pole upright until it reaches your elbow. Adjust your stick to this height and tighten securely.
Using poles as you walk is a far more effective total body exercise. Try it out. You will be surprised at the results. If you are interested in learning more about Nordic Walking this book will help.