Body Buzz – Taking It All In Your Stride
by Sasha Kanal
We all know the fantastic health benefits of regular walking – surely the most democratic of all activities around and of which Body Buzz is a huge advocate.
Ramp up these benefits even further and you have the wonderfully named Nordic walking. Originating from Finland in the 1970s, it takes its cue from off-season ski training and was originally used as a way to exercise cross-country skiers during the summer months. Hugely popular in Finland itself (20% of the country’s population is said to partake) and also in Germany and other parts of Europe, many of us in the UK too are starting to see the positives effects of this lovely sport.
Also called ‘Pole Walking’, the activity uses special poles to facilitate the walking movement, in which force is applied to the poles with each stride. This means that the entire body is engaged and exercised and not just the lower body as with regular walking. Nordic walkers put more intensity into each stride and so the upper body, arms and chest areas including the core are worked fully with movements similar to resistance training.
The fantastic thing about Nordic Walking is that it can benefit anyone, from those with existing medical problems to the already super fit.
Pole to Pole
Because the use of poles helps to propel the walker along, it makes it easier to move faster than normal without feeling the effort. The pressure exerted on the poles also means there’s a significant reduction in the pressure on knees and joints. As well as being a great aerobic exercise for the heart and lungs, Nordic walking is said to use a whopping 90% of skeletal muscles as well as burning up to 45% more calories than normal walking. Bonus!
Because it’s a relatively low impact activity, it’s also an ideal sport for those with neck and back problems, meaning the more senior generation can also enjoy. It can be done anywhere – town or countryside and apart from the right poles and some walking shoes, no other special equipment or gear is needed.
Many Nordic walkers engage in the sport as a group, so it’s very sociable too and you can talk while you walk – a great combination! Exercising outside is also a fantastic way to boost endorphins and set you up for the day.
It’s recommended that people learn the correct technique from a qualified instructor to get the most of the activity. There are a myriad of groups and sites online dedicated to the sport in the UK and with the beautiful Sussex countryside on our doorstep, there’s no excuse not to bring a little Nordic nous to your fitness regime.
CAUTION: If you are unsure of any new exercise regime please consult your GP before commencing.