For the majority of us, we unintentionally walk somewhere every day. You could be walking in the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, work, school, or anywhere else. The truth is, walking has become second nature; most of us see it as part of our daily routine.
Did you know there are different types of walking?
If you’re an avid walker, you may have known there are different types of walking you can implement into your routine. If not, you do know now! One particular is nordic walking.
What is Nordic walking?
Nordic walking is a form of walking that targets your whole body, otherwise known as a total body workout. What’s unique about this form of walking is that people walk with poles. These poles work as a way to propel your upper body forward and your legs.
The truth is, many walkers, hikers, and trekkers did this form of exercise for a few decades before the term officially became known as ‘Nordic walking.’ It also helped skiers practice and get fit during their off-seasons.
However, in 1988 a famous American company known as Exerstrider produced walking poles designed for fitness walkers. Later on, in 1997, they became marketed by another company called Exel, who changed the term to be called ‘Nordic walking.’
8 Benefits of Nordic walking
Nordic walking is an excellent form of walking to undergo. It has many benefits, which are:
1. Tones your body
Nordic walking is a total body workout. Which means when you walk, you will be using your legs to go forward and exercise. Likewise, your arms will be toned as you will be swinging them while using the walking poles.
Don’t forget your core muscles! When you practice nordic walking, you use your core muscles to keep you balanced at the center.
You are utilizing all of these muscles while Nordic walking allows your whole body to become toned at the same time, enabling you to benefit from even toning. Even Public Health England recommended this as a bone-strengthening and muscle toning activity!
2. It improves your posture
When you use your poles while nordic walking, it gets your spine to rotate automatically, this is especially evident when you plant and trail your poles. Because of this, it improves your overall body posture. Also, a trial showed that Nordic walking involves less pressure on the knees, up to a 28% reduction!
3. Can burn up to 46% more calories than standard walking
As you’re working harder to grip on to the poles, use them, and you’re consciously focusing on your muscle groups, you’re going to burn more calories than a standard walk. On average, researchers say that you can burn up to 46% more calories.
4. You can walk faster
The poles you are using propel you forward when walking. In a way, they make you go faster without realizing due to the additional reinforcement.
5. It’s a low-intensity exercise
A lot of people take to Nordic walking when they’re injured as it’s a low-intensity exercise. It does not place too much pressure on your joints, and many people opt for this instead of running.
6. Improves your heart and lung health
When you practice nordic walking, your heart rate will increase way more than you do regularly. It’s also the case as you’re walking faster and working more muscles. As a result, it’s been shown to lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, and allow your arteries to be kept clear.
7. It helps your mental and social wellbeing
When you do nordic walking, you relieve a lot of stress. In particular, you release hormones known as endorphins, which serve as a natural pain killer to your body. When you exercise, you get a sense of euphoria, which makes you feel good.
In addition to this, nordic walking is a social exercise as you often do it with people. Nordic walking is also a mood enhancer, as when you’re out walking with friends, it’s most likely your mood will elevate.
8. Increases your blood circulation
As you walk and move all of your muscles, your heart works harder to pump oxygenated blood around your body. Because of this, more blood is circulated to different areas, allowing you to gain more energy and oxygen to your muscles.
How do I start Nordic Walking?
If you wish to begin Nordic walking, then you will need to follow these steps.
1. Buy your walking equipment
To be able to Nordic walk, you will need to have the right walking equipment. This means apart from your walking clothing; you’ll need to purchase walking poles.
Don’t just purchase any poles or skiing poles, though. You will need to consider a few factors when purchasing: height, the walking stride, wrist straps, and grip.
Pole height and stride
When looking for a walking pole to do nordic walking, you will want to look at the height and stride simultaneously. The first important factor to consider is that the poles you are purchasing touch the ground.
At the same time, your elbows must be in a 90-degree position and comfortable to walk with. Ideally, you will want to purchase adjustable poles so you can change the height when you’re walking. If you opt for nonadjustable ones, you will want to make sure they’re the right ones for you. So we suggest asking for advice from an expert in the store.
Wrist Straps and grip
Another important factor when purchasing walking poles is that you will want poles that fit your hands well. This means your hands will be comfortable gripping them at the top, and they won’t slip out of your hands easily. Moreover, as another precaution to avoid this from happening, you will want wrist straps.
Wrist straps aren’t essential for this type of walking; however, they do certainly help. Wrist straps allow your pole, when moving it backward, to release quickly, and stay attached to your hands. Similarly, when you move your arms forward, they come back into your hands.
2. Consider the terrain you’d like to do your Nordic Walking on
When you do Nordic Walking, you’re not limited to where you walk. However, depending on the type of terrain you walk on, you will want to consider the different ways you can use your equipment.
For example, if you are walking on a footpath, you will want to use the rubber pads that cover your pole’s bottom. However, if you’re walking on a rockier type of terrain or dirt, you will want to utilize the spike at your walking pole’s bottom.
3. Wear the appropriate walking shoes
As you will be using your whole body to do Nordic walking, you will need to make sure you wear the right shoes. If you’re walking on terrain that is off road, you will want more grip and maybe opt for a boot, whereas if you’re walking on a path, you may need less grip and choose to wear a shoe.
4. Attach the poles to your wrists
Now you have an idea of what equipment you require to be able to Nordic walk; you can begin. The first thing to begin Nordic walking is that you’ll want to make sure the poles attach to your wrists.
The way you do this is that you fit them around your thumb and then clasp the strap around your wrist. Depending on your wrist size, you may need to lengthen or shorten the strap.
5. Ignore the poles and walk
Before you get adjusted to the poles, it would help if you walked as you normally would. This would allow you to get your gait and balance right before you implement the poles.
Make sure when you’re doing this, you’re holding the poles lightly in your hands. The beauty of Nordic walking is that it allows you to walk naturally, and the poles aid your walking. It’s important that the poles do not change your way of walking.
6. Make sure you place your feet in the right position
When you’re walking, you will want to make sure you use your heel and the ball of your foot. Also, when you do this, you will want to put your opposite arm down to the ground with the pole. The reason you use your heel is that it allows you to pull your body forward.
7. Remember to move your arms
Allow your arms to move with your leading foot. Get your poles to touch the ground as the heel of your foot touches the floor. Also, make sure your arms are in sync while the other foot touches the ground.
8. Make sure your poles touch the ground when you walk
When you walk, you will want to gently touch your poles on the ground. At the same time, you will want to make sure they’re at a 45-degree angle, and the movement is natural.
Then after some time, you will want to push your arms off the poles and move your body forward. From here, you will be able to engage your upper body and have less pressure on your joints.
9. Use your whole body
Nordic walking is a total body workout. Therefore you will want to engage your whole body, starting with your core. You can do this by practicing and placing your hands on your lower rib cage underneath your chest.
Make sure you keep your head and hips straight and gently move your rib cage. This will serve as a natural motion and will help you to apply this to your walk.
10. Practice walking across short distances
Because you’re engaging more muscle, when you do nordic walking, you will be burning more calories than normal. It’s for this reason that you will want your body to get used to the muscles being engaged before you start walking long distances.
Therefore, we suggest to begin walking for only 30 minutes at a time and walk close to home. Then when you begin to feel more comfortable, walk larger distances over time.
Well, that’s it. Nordic walking is definitely an exercise you should consider doing and changing up your walks with now and again. Once you’ve purchased the polls, it’s inexpensive to do! Remember when you are doing nordic walking, to only do it in small increments at first before you do a long walk.
Try Nordic walking today.