Nordic Walking is becoming a popular activity for older people across the country. People are choosing to take part in this form of exercise as a hobby, as they look to improve their fitness and meet new people.
As we all know, it's very important for older people to remain as active as possible in order to remain healthy and lower their chances of a long-term medical condition. Today's post takes a closer look at Nordic Walking, explaining what it is and the benefits of taking part. For other hobby ideas, please see our in-depth guide for older people.
What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking is a full body workout which is perfect for older people. The exercise was originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers, as you use specially designed walking poles which help to enhance your natural walking experience.
These poles are used in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk. Nordic Walking can be done in any location, city or countryside, but it's recommended that you learn the technique from a qualified instructor.
According to the British Nordic Walking website (BNW), more than 10 million people now take part in this activity around the world.
Nordic Walking is easy on the joints and can be done by people of all fitness levels and capabilities. As it provides you with a full body workout, without any strain or pain, Nordic Walking can provide plenty of benefits for your body. The BNW give the following example:
- It burns up to 46% more calories compared to walking with poles.
- You release tension in the neck and shoulders.
- It can improve your posture and gait.
- You strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
- You reduce the impact on your joints.
According to the NHS, exercising in this way can also lower your risk of several long-term medical conditions. Examples include:
Of course, as with all forms of exercise, Nordic Walking will also help you to lose weight. This form of exercise can also have plenty of social benefits, as there are groups across the country for you to join. As part of a group, you'll meet new friends who have an interest in common.
Lessons are available across the country so that you can perfect the technique. Here is the advice that the NHS give:
You move in a similar way to ordinary walking and swing your arms from your shoulder with your elbows straight – think of a soldier marching."
Nordic Walking is seen as an enhancement of regular walking, so your movements should be the same. The Nordic Academy expand further on the techniques involved:
Lean upper body slightly forwards.
Arms and legs move alternately - when the right foot is forward, the left hand is forward, and then vice versa.
Take longer strides than normal.
Roll the foot from the heel to the ball with each step.
The poles swing forward with long arms and a loosely gripped and guiding hand.
The poles always point diagonally backwards and are planted between the front and back foot.
The body is pushed forward past the pole until the pole forms a continuous line with the outstretched arm behind the body.
The palm of the hand is open, and fingers are stretched out at the release position.
To take part in this activity you will need to purchase a pair of Nordic Walking poles, which are different to those used to trekking. You'll also need to purchase some walking shows and the appropriate clothing for the environment that you're going to be walking in.
Some instructors will provide their own poles, but it might be a nice idea in the long run to purchase your own pair. There are five types of poles available:
- Fixed Length - Cannot be adjusted so you'll need to ensure that you have the right height for your body.
- Extendable - A pole which comes with the option to extend so that improves your technique.
- Adjustable - Great for all levels as they provide full flexibility and entirely suitable for all Nordic walkers.
- Telescopic - These poles fold down to fit into backpacks and suitcases. They come as a three piece and contain two adjustable joints, which could cause more vibration.
- Strapless - No straps are included on the pole.
There are Nordic walking groups and instructors across the country, so you should be able to find one in your local area quite easily. Commonly, you will be offers a taster lesson to ensure that this form of exercise is for you. Find a group near you.
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