What is Nordic walking?
Invented in the 1930s in Finland as a way for cross country skiers to train in the summer, Nordic walking is basically walking with poles, alternating your arm movements with your stride so your left arm moves forward together with your right leg and vice versa, like so:
The movement is similar to cross country skiing technique and you can increase your stride for a more intensive workout. It is a popular activity in Scandinavia and Germany and is becoming increasingly so in the UK. You may have seen people marching in groups with poles across parks and up hills in the last few years, what you may not know is that it is actually very good for you.
Why is it good for me?
Nordic walking also engages the core and upper body, so you work out your entire body, burning up to 46% more calories than walking without poles. It can help improve the posture and lessens the load on the lower body while toning leg, back and arm muscles. It is a great way to build stamina and improve cardio endurance while being gentle on your joints and can help balance and coordination. It is also more sociable than other low impact exercises like swimming and can be done anywhere.
What equipment do I need?
All you need are some comfortable clothes, some good trainers or walking boots depending where you are headed, and the poles themselves. The sticks come with a rubber stopper at the bottom and many have a hand strap like a ski pole. You can either get one-piece poles that need to be matched to your height, or telescopic poles that are adjustable and can easily be shortened and attached to your backpack or put in a case. They are not expensive and you can find them online or in any outdoor store.
How can I try it?
If you like the sound of a sociable, low impact outdoor activity, there are groups and clubs all over the UK that offer lessons and guided walks, you can find one near you here.
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