What is Nordic Walking?

What is Nordic Walking?

Be active, me kori tonu

Simply defined, Nordic Walking is walking with poles giving you a total body workout. Using strong, yet lightweight flexible one-piece carbon composite poles, dampen unwanted vibrations on hard surfaces and can’t collapse.

This is important especially with previously inactive populations eager to reap the health benefits from this easy and effective form of physical activity. Nordic Walking is fun and can be enjoyed by almost everyone – any age, any athletic ability.

Background of Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking uses specifically designed poles to engage the upper body during fitness walking. Nordic Walking was first used as a summer training method by cross-country skiers. It was then developed into a fitness exercise with specific training equipment in co-operation with the Finnish sports equipment manufacturer Exel Oyj, researchers in sports medicine, and other fitness professionals. Nordic Walking was first launched in Finland in 1997. It has rapidly increased in popularity and today Nordic Walking is a well-known fitness sport.

Health facts – Benefits of Nordic Walking

In Nordic Walking the benefits are clear within the first few minutes of trying and the Cooper Institute in Texas has issued the following findings following comprehensive tests into the activity.

1. Burn more calories in less time

Consumes approximately 400 calories per hour (compared with 280 calories per hour for normal walking)

Energy consumption increases when using poles by an average of 20% compared with ordinary walking at the same speed without poles

Heart rate is 5-17 beats per minute higher.

Up to a 46% increase in energy consumption when fully utilising the correct technique (Cooper Institute research, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sports 2002 publication).

2. Low rate of perceived exertion & easy to master

You can walk for extended periods and not feel exhausted because, you are utilising more of your body’s muscle groups to propel you.

3. A total body activity

The lateral mobility of the neck and spine increases significantly

The muscles most actively involved are the forearm extensor and flexor muscles, biceps, triceps, the rear part of the shoulder muscles, the large pectoral muscles, chest, abdominals, back muscles, and your butt!

4. Reduced load and relaxed muscles

Reduces the load on knees and other joints.

Improves balance and co-ordination

Releases pain and muscle tension in the neck/shoulder region

Poles are a safety factor on slippery surfaces

5. Varied levels of intensity

6. Energetic, Relaxing and Fun

The Ministry of Health and SPARC recommend that all adults get at least 30 minutes of activity five or more days per week, and Nordic Walking is the ideal way to do so. This low impact, total-body movement is easy and effective – and so fun you’ll likely want to do more than the 30 minutes minimum. And if you want to boost the intensity for greater calorie burn and improved fitness you can simply pole harder, tackle more challenging terrain or walk for a longer time with a low level of perceived exertion.

The complete Cooper Institute study can be found at this reference: Timothy S. Church et. al. Field testing of Physiological Responses Associated with Nordic Walking. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, vol. 73, No. 3., pp 296-300

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