There’s a crazy woman who’s taken to walking around my local park. She wears a peak cap and sunglasses to disguise herself, pants and sweats as she strides along, is plugged into an iPod, and most disturbingly, uses two ski-like poles to propel herself along.
Yes, you guessed it, the crazy woman is me, and I’ve taken up Nordic Walking. And I LOVE it! I’ve always loved walking, but it can get a bit aimless at times, especially if walking to keep fit. Nordic Walking has made walking both fun and challenging.
Nordic Walking in Europe
It started in Finland as a way for cross-country skiers to train during the summer and is apparently very popular in Europe, Finland, Germany and Switzerland in particular. But not in Britain. I can vouch for this, because so far I am the only Nordic walker in my south London park, and judging from the strange stares I’ve been getting, the only Nordic Walker most of the park regulars have ever seen in their lives.
What are the Benefits of Nordic Walking?
The main advantage of Nordic Walking is that as you walk along pushing the poles into the ground behind you, you are using your arm muscles and exercising the upper body. I can feel my spine rotate as I walk from my hips and the tension draining from my neck and shoulder muscles as they too rotate from side to side. Perfect after a day at the computer. And because the arms are doing some of the weight-bearing, less pressure is put on the knee and ankle joints in particular. This is excellent news for arthritis sufferers, of which I am one. And my arm muscles are starting to firm up and feel a lot stronger which is a great help when it comes to gardening and lifting.
Nordic Walking for Weight Loss
The main reason I’m doing it is to try and lose a little weight and increase my fitness. According to Lucy Knight in her book Walking for Weight Loss, a Nordic walker burns off 46% more calories than a regular walker and uses 90% of the body’s skeletal muscles compared to swimming, which uses 35%, or running which uses 70%. With statistics like that you can’t go wrong.
So far, the only people who have been brave enough to approach me in the park have been a few old age pensioners who immediately see the benefits of walking with two poles over using a walker. As someone who once spent over a year on crutches, I can tell them they’re on to a good thing.
But where are all the potential Nordic Walkers? I thought I’d be part of a trend, not the trend itself. I need company. So please, grab yourself a couple of poles and head down to your local park. I guarantee that within a short time, you too will be a true Nordic Walking devotee. Or is that Nordic Walkee?
PS: Dark glasses and iPod are probably essential at this early stage of the trend.
Image: Thanks to CT Arzneimittel GmbH on Flickr.com