More than 10 million Europeans of all ages and fitness levels are participating in Nordic walking, an upcoming fitness craze that uses special poles to engage the upper body muscles providing a fantastic, low impact workout, even for those who have health problems or physical limitations. Also known as ski walking, this new activity turbo-charges a regular fitness walking regimen, burning as much as 40 percent more calories compared to regular walking.
Nordic walking poles help individuals who have issues with their balance, knees, hips, weight and back, including those who have rods in their backs. It’s also good for those suffering from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, neuropathy, arthritis, bursitis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, post polio, osteoporosis, stroke recovery, cancer recovery and other limitations to walking. Nordic walking is helping thousands of people get off the couch, get outside and start walking safely, effectively launching much needed walking campaigns.
The human kinetics book entitled “Nordic Walking for Total Fitness” by Suzanne Nottingham and Alexandra Jurasin covers the topic. Trekking (hiking with poles) and Nordic walking are two different activities that use very different equipment and techniques. It may sound silly, but perhaps walking is not just walking. The pole angle, weight, grip, and straps are different between the aforementioned modes of walking. The Nordic walking pole is designed to allow your hands to relax in order to target the larger muscles that wrap around the back. But using poles of any kind automatically stimulates your spine and all of the muscles around it, even with inefficient technique. When walking with poles, the key postural muscles of the core and upper body are engaged.
“Nordic Walking for Total Fitness” outlines the health and fitness benefits and the enhancement of body posture that result from the activity. Equipment including poles, shoes, apparel, pedometers, and heart rate monitors are covered.
There are photos for every segment of the book showing technique progressions, fitness exercises, power training, and variations for balance, agility, and flexibility. Common technique errors are also reviewed as well as uphill and downhill techniques, advanced cardio training, and drills for strength training and calorie burning.
The book also includes fitness assessments, sample workouts for varying levels of interests from first timer to cross training triathletes. There are also suggestions about customizing your program. Training program recommendations are offered for building distance, fluctuating daily intensity, and rest days. If this all sounds a bit like overkill, that’s because it is, particularly if you are a recreational fitness enthusiast but you need read only as much of the book as you feel is relevant to your personal situation.
I’ve been practicing Nordic walking for a few years and found many of the claimed attributes in the book regarding posture and exercise to be true. I’ve always been in search of a way to decrease the amount of time spent exercising, so I was happy to hear that using the poles significantly increases caloric burning. Being a cross-country skier, it is easy to quickly master Nordic walking. After a summer of Nordic walking, I noticed a marked improvement in my cross-country ski poling in terms of strength and timing. It seemed that I increased the amount of forward momentum that was attributable to poling and I was able to pole stronger and longer when skiing.
“Nordic Walking for Total Fitness” provides a foundation for anyone, ranging from those just looking for an activity to lose weight to health aficionados interested in improving their fitness level.
“Nordic Walking for Total Fitness” is available for $19.95 plus shipping from Human Kinetics at www.humankinetics.com or call 217-351-5076.
Visit http://nordicwalking.co.uk/ for more information.