Nordic Walking: A Full Body Exercise

Nordic Walking: A Full Body Exercise

You might already know about “Like the Flowing River”, which is a novel by well-known Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. It’s not as popular as his other novels are but it’s worth reading. The novel is an interesting collection of many short stories and real life experiences of Paulo Coelho. Every story has a lesson to learn and a message behind it.

But why am I talking about that novel? While reading one of the stories “Of Poles and Rules” of this novel, I came across a term Nordic walking. I noticed he mentioned that his wife found out on the internet that she was burning 46 percent more calories than when doing normal walking. This inspired me to write this article.

Nordic Walking Works as a Full Body Workout:

This type of walking is an interesting and easy implementation to enhance the benefits of normal walking. It is a full body implementation of regular walking. This has become quite popular among regular people (non-athletes) as a daily healthy physical activity. There are specially designed walking poles for Nordic walking, which are similar to ski poles.

Nordic Walkers
Nordic Walkers

Nordic walking works as a full-body workout. It involves a certain type of pole and a certain posture and stride. This concept originated in Finland as a way to train cross-country skiers in the off-season. Now, it has quickly spread as a hobby like a wildfire throughout Europe and many countries of the world. The Nordic Walking pole has a strap attached to the grip. The strap is for applying pressure through the strap onto the pole.

Benefits of Nordic Walking Over Simple Walking:

Many studies have shown that the benefits of Nordic walking are noticeably greater than regular walking and even trekking and jogging:

  • It involves sticks so it decreases load and strain on the lower body.
  • It reduces the impact on your joints, especially your knees.
  • When done correctly, it can burn up to 40% more calories than regular walking.
  • It activates almost 90% of the body’s muscles.
  • It increases aerobic effect by up to 25% compared to regular walking.
  • Works on shoulders, upper arms and back muscles.
  • Improves core stability and strength while promoting an upright posture.
  • It improves lateral mobility of the spine.

Tips and Techniques for Nordic Walking:

  1. Keep your shoulders relaxed and free and walk naturally without pressure. Nordic Walking is just an enhancement of regular walking.
  2. Just like regular walking when the right foot moves forward, the left hand is forward and vice versa.
  3. Lean your upper body slightly forwards.
  4. The poles always point diagonally backwards. Place them between the front and back foot.
  5. Keep your palms open and stretch the fingers out at the release position.
  6. The body is pushed forward past the pole. Then pole forms a continuous line with the outstretched arm behind the body.

Nordic Walking Poles:

Nordic walking poles are a much shorter than regular skiing poles but they are available in varying lengths. Nordic walking poles typically come in two versions. First one is one-piece, non-adjustable shaft version. These are usually lighter and shorter. The second one is two or three piece twist-locking version. You can adjust the length of second version and these are more transportable.

The poles for Nordic walking feature a range of grips and wrist-straps, or rarely, no wrist-strap at all. And the straps eliminate the need to tightly grasp the grips. As with many trekking poles, Nordic walking poles come with removable rubber tips for use on hard surfaces and hardened metal tips for trails, the beach, snow and ice. Most poles are made from lightweight aluminum, carbon fiber, or composite materials. Special walking shoes are not required, although there are shoes being marketed as specifically designed for the sport.

Researches on Nordic Walking:

Scientists performed a study on Nordic walking in Cooper Institute in Dallas. The research shows that Nordic walking burns almost 20 percent more calories and uses more oxygen than regular walking. A research on fibromyalgia patients was published in February in Arthritis Research & Therapy. The results of the research showed that Nordic walking helped improve physical function more than a lower intensity walking program.

Dr. Pam Roberts, a family physician who is a health and wellness coach at The Summit Medical Fitness Center in Kalispell, Montana and teaches Nordic walking says, Nordic walking can burn up to 40 percent more calories than just regular walking, if done correctly. It reduces knee and joint stress, boosts oxygen consumption. More oxygen intake benefits the brain and helps realign the body after a hectic desk job. It can even appeal to the exercise-averse because it is easier than other exercises that ask for equal effort.

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