Nordic Walking is of Finnish origin. It's a special type of walking using tailored poles and has proven to offer many health benefits, including increased calorie expenditure and weight loss.
Nordic walking is of Finnish origin. It's a special type of walking using tailored poles and has proven to offer many health benefits, including increased calorie expenditure and weight loss.
If you're open to something new training-wise, and you'd like to practice walking while also using your upper body to get a full-body workout, Nordic walking may be the thing for you.
The concept of Nordic walking was developed for training during the off-season, rapidly developing into a fitness craze now adopted by millions worldwide. Yet, it's still a somewhat unfamiliar type of training for some, so let's dig into the basics of Nordic walking, why you should try it, and what the benefits are for overall health and weight loss.
The first notable thing that makes Nordic walking different is that you use walking poles to help work your upper body and take your overall walking experience up a notch. There are some specific technical details that help you improve your techniques.
First, you need to start each step with your heel touching the ground first and then moving over to the ball of your feet and then your toes as you propel yourself forward. Every time one of the poles hits the ground, you should have a tight grip while opening up the hand and letting it go as your arm moves back. The straps attached to the poles make this movement easier than it sounds, so don't worry about dropping the pole or losing your balance. Just keep a "grip & go" stance, and you'll be walking like there's no tomorrow. Just make sure to activate your core muscles and keep on moving your hips as you steer the poles.
Nordic walking is a popular workout because it offers a great cardio workout while also targeting key muscle groups. Targeted muscle groups include the arms, legs, shoulders, and core muscles.1Zoffoli L, Ditroilo M, Federici A, Lucertini F. September 9, 2017. Patterns of trunk muscle activation during walking and pole walking using statistical non-parametric mapping. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. DOI:10.1016/j.jelekin.2017.09.002
While normal walking mainly focuses on activating your legs and glutes, Nordic walking adds an excellent upper body burn that builds strength and stamina. To put this into perspective, normal walking activates 50% of your body, mainly your lower body, while Nordic walking activates over 80% of your body.2Harvard Medical School. June 29, 2022. Fitness trend: Nordic walking. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/fitness-trend-nordic-walking#:~:text=Nordic%20walking%20combines%20cardiovascular%20exercise,Baggish%20explains.
Nordic walking is for everyone, even if you're recovering from an injury! In fact, Nordic walking is one of the best ways to keep yourself active and moving during a physical recovery process, as the poles relieve stress from your joints.3Homma D, Jigami H, Sato N. April 28, 2016. Homma D, Jigami H, Sato N. Effects of Nordic walking on pelvis motion and muscle activities around the hip joints of adults with hip osteoarthritis. J Phys Ther Sci. DOI:10.1589/jpts.28.1213
There are many other benefits as well:
Regarding disadvantages, Nordic walking has very few, if any. Some say the poles are a tripping hazard; however, the poles' purpose is to keep your body upright and guide you from falling. As long as you don't try NW on an uneven or rocky surface, you allow the poles to do what they're supposed to.
One disadvantage is that you need suitable equipment, which means you'll have to spend money. And, of course, the better the quality of the equipment, the more you're likely to pay. However, it's an investment if you plan to do it regularly.
One element these activities have in common is the walking poles, but that's about it. Hiking or trekking poles look different and are designed to support you as you conquer uneven surfaces. Additionally, while the purpose of Nordic walking is to ultimately propel you forward and add some drive to your walking motion, hiking poles are crucial for support. They are specifically designed with that purpose in mind.
When you compare Nordic walking poles to hiking poles, you'll also see that hiking poles have a wrist loop while Nordic walking poles have wrist straps specifically designed to help you achieve the correct walking technique.
You'll find that Nordic walking poles are specifically made to support and optimize the exercise. Here's what you need to know about them.
Nordic walking poles, or NW poles for short, are an adaptation of ski poles. They are not heavy and help you maintain good posture while exercising. NW poles have an attached handpiece that looks like a fingerless glove, with a separate hole for your thumb, which you use to secure your grip and let go of the poles as you walk.
It's essential that your NW poles are the correct length to ensure good posture and technique while walking. To calculate the required height of your NW poles, you can multiply your height in centimeters by 0.68. For example, a person who is 170cm tall will need 115cm poles. When gripping the poles, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle.
If you want to see results in both fitness and weight loss, aim to do four to five sessions a week, with one session being an hour long. If you specifically want to lose weight, combining a healthy and calorie-controlled eating plan is key.4Gobbo S, Bullo V, Roma E, Duregon F, Bocalini DS, Rica RL, Di Blasio A, Cugusi L, Vendramin B, Bergamo M, Cruz-Diaz D, Alberton CL, Ermolao A, Bergamin M. June 18, 2019. Nordic Walking Promoted Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese People: A Systematic Review for Future Exercise Prescription. Funct Morphol Kinesiol. DOI:10.3390/jfmk4020036
Because you're using many more body parts while practicing nordic walking, you can rest assured that you're burning more calories and toning your upper and lower body.
Taking a one-hour brisk walk will burn between 250 and 300 calories while going Nordic walking for one hour at a leisurely pace will burn at least 400 calories.5Sadowska-Krępa E, Gdańska A, Rozpara M, Pilch W, Přidalová M, Bańkowski S. 2020. Effect of 12-Week Interventions Involving Nordic Walking Exercise and a Modified Diet on the Anthropometric Parameters and Blood Lipid Profiles in Overweight and Obese Ex-Coal Miners. Obes Facts. DOI:10.1159/000506403 If you do Nordic walking at a more brisk pace, you're calorie expenditure will also be much higher. There is a significant difference as your heart needs to work harder to pump blood to all the participating body parts you use when Nordic walking.
So, you're interested, but you don't know exactly where to start. First, you'll need to get yourself the right poles, and then you can start by focusing on the following five principles to perfect your movement.
While you don't need a gym membership to do Nordic Walking, you need to have the proper equipment. First, you need sturdy NW poles and also invest in good-quality walking shoes.
Most poles are made either from aluminum or carbon fiber. Poles made from carbon fiber weigh less, absorbs vibration, and offer superior support.
Walking shoes is incredibly important if you're going to start walking regularly at a brisk pace. The most important function of walking shoes is to provide support for the arches of your feet.6Russo L, Di Capua R, Arnone B, Borrelli M, Coppola R, Esposito F, Padulo J. June 25, 2020 Influence on Motor Tasks Related to Walking Gait Variability and Stability. Int J Environ Res Public Health. DOI:10.3390/ijerph17124569 Good walking shoes absorb shock and protect the structure of your feet against disproportionate impact.
What makes Nordic walking so effective is the fact that it targets several issues at once. It improves your posture while helping you to get a full body workout, improve your cardiovascular system, and build strength in your upper and lower body. It also helps support your joints, making it an excellent choice for older individuals or recovering from an injury.
If you commit to Nordic walking, you'll definitely see results in more than one department and become fit, healthy, and strong.
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