Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Nordic Walking is a walking technique developed in Finland in the 1980s to help cross-country skiers continue training in summer time. It simply means walking with two light-weight aluminium poles. The great benefit of Nordic Walking is that it exercises the upper and lower body at the same time as you walk. With each arm swing you are strengthening the upper shoulder, neck and back muscles. You walk naturally at your normal pace and rhythm but you use two sticks as you walk
Anyone can do Nordic Walking. Regardless of your age or gender you can benefit from this activity. It is a fun activity and can be done alone or with friends. It is an aid to weight loss and makes your daily walk more interesting.
It is a low stress activity. The poles take some of the stress from the knees. It is safe, relaxes the body and if you walk alone, using your poles provides company as the poles click clack on the ground. Your poles also give a measure of security and can be used as a protection against dogs. Nordic Walking feels less tiring than normal walking as the poles support you and propel you.
Normal walking only uses 70% of body muscle but Nordic Walking will utilise at least 90% of body muscle. It is also excellent for toning up the body and losing weight. You will expend 280 calories per hour walking normally but this increases to 400 calories per hour if you use your sticks. Using sticks increases energy consumption by 46%.
Nordic walking poles differ slightly from hill-walking or trekking poles. They come with removable rubber tips for walking on hard surfaces and hardened metal tips for use on trails. snow or ice. They do not have a moulded hand grip as trekking poles do. This is to allow for easier release of the poles as you stride. The wrist straps or half-glove when properly adjusted to fit the walker maintains contact with the poles. Using the straps or glove eliminates the need to grip the pole tightly and allows freer movement of the arms and the poles. However if you have a pair of hill walking or trekking poles you can use them provided you remember to grip the poles loosely. Gripping the poles tightly will cause tension in the arms and shoulders and negate the relaxing benefit of the Nordic Walk.
The poles can be purchased either as one piece non-adjustable or two or three piece adjustable locking pieces. Adjustable is best as you can adjust the length of the pole to suit your height. The adjustable poles are also ideal for travelling as they can be collapsed to fit into a suitcase or rucksack.
It is important that you adjust your poles correctly to suit your height. Stand the pole upright until it reaches your elbow. The top of the pole should be level with your elbow. Adjust your pole until you reach this height and then lock the pole by twisting to the right.
Once you have adjusted your poles to the right height you are ready to start. Wear your normal walking shoes or boots, create a nice relaxed stride and enjoy yourself. Off you go!