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Nordic walking is a great way to up the benefits of your walking exercise without even realizing it. Once you've got the techniques under your belt you'll quickly see the benefits of weight loss, toned muscles, and better overall health.
Nordic walking has gained popularity in recent years, but many people are still unaware of what is Nordic Walking.
What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking is a type of exercise that was developed in Finland. Based on the technique used to train for cross-country skiing, the goal of Nordic Walking is to enhance your regular walk by adding more upper body exercise by using your arms to push as you walk. This increases the number of muscles used, increases aerobic activity which improves health.
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To reap the benefits that come with this type of sport, you might want to learn how to perform Nordic walking properly. The activity requires that you keep a straight back while looking ahead, that you move your hands in a pendulum motion, and use the Nordic poles to push off the ground with more force.
I began to look into the subject a while ago because it looked like the kind of activity I might be interested in, but I never expected to get so immersed in it.
I will do my best to provide you with access to everything I've learned, so you will be able to learn more about this sport as well.
Why Nordic Walking?
For years I’ve been living a semi-active lifestyle, being more active on weekends in comparison to the rest of the week, and I was OK with it. However, once I got to my late 30’s, something changed.
I began to feel lethargic and different aches began to appear, and I realized that I had to make a major lifestyle change and start working out more I understood that at a certain age, you have to start taking better care of your body. Otherwise, it won’t cooperate with you for much longer.
I was always fond of walking, but I saw it more as a pastime activity rather than a sport. But hey, why not transform the hobby into something more permanent? I started looking into ways to turn walking into a legitimate sports activity.
Treadmill walking can be a bit boring and long distance walking takes time, so when I stumbled upon Nordic walking, it immediately excited me as I could get more health benefits in significantly less time and without feeling it all a great effort.
What You Need to Know About Nordic Walking
Nordic walking allows you to use your upper and lower extremities alongside your postural muscles, which means that you get to train 90% of all body muscles. Apart from developing muscle strength, this type of sport can help you develop endurance while your perceived effort will stay the same.
Nordic walking allows you to burn more calories than many other sports. According to the Nordic Walking Nations, Nordic walking can burn about 600 kcal in the same environment where regular walking burns only 240 Kcal, slow jogging 280 Kcal, and swimming 330 Kcal.
The amount of energy you dispose of when you use the Nordic walking technique depends on the terrain, your speed, and the type of walking poles you use.
According to experts, short poles increase energy expenditure by 3%, without making your training session less comfortable.
Dozens of studies were conducted regarding the influence of Nordic walking on various illnesses and medical conditions. As it turns out, Nordic walking can benefit you if you deal with Parkinson’s disease, depression, chronic low back pain, and intermittent claudication – which is pain that is caused by decreased blood flow [source].
How is Nordic Walking Different to Normal Walking?
Muscles at Work
When it comes to regular walking, it should come as no surprise that the lower extremity muscles are the most active. That includes the quads, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, Tibialis anterior, and gluteus maximus.
However, those of you who choose to try Nordic walking will activate a larger variety of muscles. In Nordic walking you will feel your upper extremities and postural muscles at work: the latissimus dorsi, biceps, triceps, anterior deltoid, and your abdominal muscles will be active at different stages of your walking cycle.
Furthermore, according to studies, some muscles work with less force when you participate in Nordic walking.
In particular, your back muscles, which can serve to reduce back strain while you exercise.
Weight Loss and Bodily Reactions
Nordic walking uses up to 67% more energy than normal walking. Your heart rate, in comparison to regular walking, will be up to to 18% higher. Moreover, your energy expenditure will grow by at least 20%, while perceived exertion will stay the same.
Furthermore, your step length will be longer, and you will be able to make fewer steps and increase your walking speed by using Nordic walking techniques.
Since Nordic walking uses more of your energy resources and elevates your heart rate with less difficulty, this sport is more efficient as an aerobic activity, which means that it can help you lose weight faster than ever.
According to research, 12 to 35 weeks of Nordic walking training can lead to a decrease in body weight and BMI (body mass index), while your muscle mass increases.
Such quick results speak for themselves, in my opinion!
If you read my article on the benefits of walking on the beach then you will immediately see how you can ramp up the benefits by Nordic beach walking – double whammy!
Who is Nordic Walking Suitable For?
- People of all ages and fitness levels – Nordic walking allows you to control your pace and put your body through a rigorous training session without putting a strain on your joints. Since you are the one that decides how much and how fast to walk, you can participate in this type of activity at any age, and no matter how fit you are.
- People who want to lose weight – Usually, when you’re overweight, exercising is much harder than it should be due to various factors. Since Nordic walking is not as strenuous as other sports while it still has all the accompanying benefits, it suits people who want to work out with less difficulty
- People who want to improve their health – As I mentioned before, Nordic walking has positive effects on various illnesses and medical conditions. While those conditions might prevent you from keeping up with your usual training routine, there is nothing that prevents you from participating in Nordic walking.
- People who want to get toned –Nordic walking allows you to use larger group muscles while putting your cardiovascular system through an aggressive workout, which in turn can help you get fit.
Why Use Nordic Walking Sticks – What Do They Do?
The idea behind Nordic walking is to use special poles and specific techniques to maintain a certain level of fitness. The poles are designed to engage your upper extremities while walking, thus taking the load off your legs and allowing you to exercise most of your body muscles.
It should be noted, that you have to purchase the right equipment to enjoy the benefits that come with Nordic walking. You can implement various specific techniques that allow you to perform the activity while protecting your body from potential damage.
In short, to use those poles correctly, they have to be at the right length and touch the ground when your elbow is flexed to 90 degrees.
Afterwards, drag the poles in a reciprocal motion – which means that one hand moves forward alongside the opposite leg – and push off the ground to give yourself more momentum.
Is Nordic Walking Hard on Your Joints?
The answer is Nordic walking is not hard on your joints. The hypothesis is that once you use Nordic poles, you can distribute your weight evenly throughout the body, thus reducing the strain you place on specific joints in your lower extremities.
According to research, Nordic walking helps reduce strain from your lower back, hip joint, and your knees while walking on a flat surface and going up some stairs. However, there is no difference between Nordic walking and regular walking when you’re going downstairs.
Nordic walking is the type of sport that suits almost anybody who wants to practice it – whether you’re in good physical shape or not, young or old.
If you are looking for a physical activity that allows you to get fit with less effort, you may want to learn a bit more about Nordic walking and all it entails, and that’s where I come in.
I’ve gathered the most relevant information regarding the sport and the accessories you might need, so stay tuned for our next article, and make sure that you are well informed before you start exercising!
Now you know what Nordic Walking is how about getting set up for actually doing it. Check out our ultimate guide to Nordic walking for the run down.
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I love hiking with my family and taking in the cool air in the hills around where I live up in Ithaca.
Most of the time we take rather shorter walks out for a bit of exercise since there are so many things in life that we also want to do – and especially the kids.
Life is a balance but one where you should never take the beauty of nature for granted. I also enjoy writing about my experiences and helping others with the things I learn about shoes from using them, from friends and the family.