Outdoor workouts to try: Nordic walking
All you need to get outdoors and exercise is a decent pair of trainers and some good weather. But if you’re looking to make your workouts a little more interesting this summer, Nordic walking may be for you. All the rage in Europe, Nordic walking doesn’t quite have the same fervour in the United Kingdom as yet - but it’s catching on.
Nordic walking is a fitness walking activity carried out with specially designed poles, which can be enjoyed both by non-athletes as a health-promoting physical activity, and by athletes as a sport, such as cross training for cyclists and runners. And an added bonus is that the activity doesn’t require much equipment, as all you need is a pair of Nordic Walking poles. These differ for the usual trekking poles because they are attached via a glove-like strap that provides the articulation required to gain forward propulsion.
Nordic Walking U.K. director, Gill Stewart, says the poles make a significant difference as they turn every step into a whole body workout which is similar to being on a cross trainer.
"Correctly used they will provide forward propulsion and make you feel lighter on your feet," Gill told Cover Media. "This helps people to walk faster and further than usual and feel energised rather than exhausted."
Accordingly, there are some notable health benefits for those willing to give Nordic walking a go. The technique works 90 per cent of the major muscles, so is great for helping people to improve mobility and activity levels. It also aids weight loss as it increases calorie burning to between 20 - 40 per cent more than normal walking and also helps build lean tissue.
Gill added that as the poles reduce strain on lower body joints, it is also ideal for those with Arthritis or joint conditions. However, Gill says the key to getting started is to not assume it is simply walking with poles.
“I would not recommend trying to learn online as you can’t assess whether you have got it right and could end up causing yourself an injury,” she said.
Instead, consult with a Nordic walking expert - there are over 3,500 Instructors in the U.K. - who can ensure you are using the right method. It usually takes four hour-long sessions to master the poles and once the training is completed, participants are then issued with a NWUK Passport which enables enthusiasts to join in on walks right across Britain.