Nordic Walking or Pole Walking is a great activity that has seen a huge increase in participation in the past couple years in North America. It has long been popular in Northern Europe where it was originally developed as a summer activity for X-country skiers. There is a reason why they dominate all the Nordic events in the Winter Olympics.
Nordic walking uses the same gait pattern as normal walking but adds an upper body component through the use of a pair of poles specifically designed for use on pavement making them different than hiking poles. With each stride you push the pole down on the ground with the opposite arm helping you stand up straighter, take longer strides, walk faster, and burn more calories!
I only started Nordic walking this past October. I am always trying out new activities, looking for ones that can increase your fitness and are still enjoyable, safe, and convenient enough that my clients can easily do them on days they don’t train with me. I was at a conference in Toronto to hear about the latest research and best ways to help people get active and healthy. One statistic that was presented stuck out in particular to me. Of the 46% of older adults in Canada that are physically active, 90% reported that walking was their main form of physical activity. The next day I learned that Nordic walking burns 20% more calories than normal walking and uses 90% of your muscles and is especially a good workout for the core muscles.
So as a health professional I was thinking: If these people who already walk start using poles, they will burn more calories without any more time spent exercising. Getting inactive people to walk is pretty easy. Most people enjoy walking, that’s a positive motivator. It’s easy and convenient, all you need is a pair of poles, walking shoes, and appropriate clothing and you can do it starting from your front door step. Using your arms will reduce stress at the ankle, knee, and hip joints and also provides stability for those that have balance issues. The upper body and core muscles contract with each step. And it is an easy activity to do as a group for people that like a social component with exercise. So why don’t more people do it?
Then I realized that I didn’t know how to do it or where to start and that is probably the reason why more people haven’t tried it either. But as you would expect, there were people at the physical activity conference that could point me in the right direction. And now I am trying to spread the word about the benefits of Nordic walking and make it easy for people to give it a try.
So if you enjoy walking come out and try walking with poles. Every Sunday morning at 10AM I organize a free Nordic walking Meetup group that gets out for an hour and a half in some of the most beautiful parks in Vancouver. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, meet new people, and stay fit and healthy! People of all ages and fitness levels participate, there is no speed requirement and I have extra sets of poles you can borrow to try it out. All you have to do is get out of bed and come be one of the best pole-walkers in Vancouver!
More info here!
January 12 – Marpole to Richmond and back
January 19 – Spanish Banks/Jerico Beach
January 26 – UBC Endowment Lands
February 2 – Walk the pier at Iona park
For 30 More Reasons to Walk click here!
Dallas Jones operates Get Fit, an active lifestyle training studio in Marpole. If you want to learn more about how to increase the physical activity in your life, check out his website here.