Are you still trying to think of an exciting way to introduce exercise into your routine? Why don’t you consider Nordic walking? A sport that requires walking with poles may sound bizarre, but the impact this exercise can have on your overall health is quite something, and certainly worth considering. We caught up with sports and rehabilitation specialist Adrienne Potter to find out why Nordic walking should be embraced by people from all walks of life…
I’ve always been active, participating in sports like running, netball, skiing, rock climbing and mountaineering, but it was 2017 when I finally – and accidently – fell across Nordic walking. I’m not quite sure why it took me so long, but even when I embarked on my new adventure as a Nordic Walking Instructor at the latter part of last year, I remained oblivious to its true potential as an activity and form of post injury / illness rehabilitation. It has only been since I completed my training that I’ve truly begun to understand just how much this sport really does have to offer.
It occurred to me that sometimes we live at such a pace, we forget how to actually LIVE life. With electronic devices constantly attached to us, it can become impossible to find time to recharge our batteries. This kind of lifestyle can cause our bodies and immune system to weaken, and then illness is inevitable. We also live in a society where many people live to a ripe old age, yet many fall foul to the perils of serious and life-long illnesses. Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, MS and Parkinson’s are unfortunately still very prevalent, but thankfully there are lifestyle changes that can be put in place earlier on in life in an attempt to minimise the risk associated with such illnesses. I’ve definitely realised that no matter how fit and healthy you think you are, you can always do more to look after yourself!
For those of you who have not heard of Nordic walking, it is walking with poles, but not in the traditional sense of trekking where the poles are much heavier and chunkier. The technique used within Nordic walking means that the whole body is engaged, making specific use of the core muscles. Working your core in this way helps to reduce tension in the upper back, neck and shoulders, improving posture and reducing lower back pain. The poles take the pressure and impact off joints, so it is fantastic for anyone who wants that cardiovascular workout without pounding the pavements or having to hit the treadmill.
As time goes by I am learning just how many different groups of people can benefit from this sport. Ladies having gone through treatment for breast cancer are at risk of suffering from lymphedema, brought on by the removal of lymph nodes, but the pendulum action and movement of the arm through Nordic walking can reduce the risk of this lifelong condition. Not only that but many women are forced in to early menopause which can contribute to joint pain, excess weight gain and body image issues. Nordic walking can help combat all of these symptoms, helping ladies regain their self-confidence. Having gone through the whole breast cancer malarkey myself back in 2013, I know what it feels like to get off the ‘hamster wheel of life’ for a while. I won’t deny that it took some time before I found my path again, but now that I have and can see the benefits of Nordic walking for women who have gone through what I did, I am determined to promote this sport as much as I can.
Nordic walking can also benefit individuals living with Parkinson’s. Often sufferers will have poor posture, balance and co-ordination, but the technique used when walking with poles demands co-ordination and encourages the reconnecting of neuron pathways within the brain. When Nordic walking you plant the poles at a 45-degree angle and this means an upright position is maintained; this allows muscle memory to kick in and posture is improved.
I’ve also seen first-hand the impact this sport can have on someone living with MS. I had a client with MS who was active up until recently when she found that walking even a quarter of a mile (400m) was a struggle. That is until we put the poles to the test! Walking with poles helped my client turn that short distance into a mile, something at the age of only 70 she didn’t think would ever be possible again!
But it is not just people with serious illnesses who can benefit from Nordic walking. People who are fit and healthy can also take up the sport as a way to keep in shape, maintain good posture, and for improved balance, co-ordination and mobility. It’s fun, it will build and tone muscles, improve your heart-rate, and overall it can help maintain good health, keeping you fitter for longer. Nordic walking is available all over the UK so why don’t you google it, find someone close to you and book yourself a taster session? You will be amazed by what you get from it.
Have you ever tried Nordic walking? Let us know your experience by commenting below.