Walk Tall With Your Nordic Walking Poles – Get Fit & Have Fun
In recent years, Nordic walking poles have gained immense popularity as a versatile fitness and outdoor activity product. This simple yet highly effective exercise technique combines the benefits of walking with the added engagement of the upper body, providing a holistic full-body workout. So, what sets Nordic walking apart from regular walking, and what are the benefits of Nordic walking poles?
Nordic walking originated in Finland and quickly spread worldwide as an enjoyable and accessible activity for people of all ages and fitness levels. But what makes Nordic walking poles so appealing?
I will delve into their incredible benefits, backed by scientific studies, expert insights, and real-life experiences. By the end of this article, I hope you’ll be inspired to grab a pair of Nordic walking poles and step into a world of improved fitness, enhanced stability, and rejuvenated well-being.
A Personal Journey: Regaining My Strength & Stability
Before we explore the broader benefits of Nordic walking poles, let me share a personal story. As a mother who experienced Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) during pregnancy and difficult birth, I know firsthand the challenges of rebuilding strength and stability. Nordic walking poles have been an absolute game-changer for me on this journey.
These walking poles have helped me get back on my feet after being on crutches for six months of my pregnancy and nine months post-birth.
No amount of physiotherapy was helping me to walk further than a few hundred meters without pain. I was even warned at 40 years old I could end up in a wheelchair later in life – LIKE HELL, I thought!
So I looked into the strange poles and saw old people walking within my village, and low and behold, they worked! The hiking poles are crucial for preventing backaches and providing the much-needed stability I require during walks. Nordic walking poles give me the confidence to go on long walks with my family and have helped me get fitter and enjoy the great outdoors again.
So let’s look at what Nordic Walking is…
What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic walking is a dynamic and stimulating complete-body exercise technique that originated in Finland and has gained global recognition for its numerous health benefits. Unlike traditional walking, Nordic walking involves using specially designed poles that actively engage the upper body, transforming a stroll into a full-body workout. In this section, we will provide a comprehensive overview of Nordic walking, including its origins, technique, and equipment, so you can fully grasp the essence of this remarkable activity.
Origins of Nordic Walking
Nordic walking traces its roots back to the 1930s in Finland when cross-country skiers sought a way to maintain their fitness levels during the off-season. They discovered that using poles could mimic the movements of cross-country skiing and engage their upper body muscles while walking. Over time, Nordic walking evolved into a popular exercise and recreational activity.
The Technique of Nordic Walking
The technique of Nordic walking is simple yet highly effective. To get started, grasp the specially designed Nordic walking poles, equipped with ergonomic handles and detachable rubber tips for various terrains. The poles should be adjusted to a length that allows for a 90-degree bend in the elbow when holding them.
Now, it’s time to engage your entire body in motion. Begin by planting the pole behind you and pushing it firmly into the ground as you stride forward. As your arm extends backwards, your opposite leg should move forward, creating a natural and rhythmic movement. This coordinated action engages your arms, shoulders, and core, intensifying the benefits of walking.
The Health Benefits of Nordic Walking
In this section, we will explore the remarkable health benefits of Nordic walking.
Nordic walking goes beyond a regular walking routine by engaging the upper body and amplifying the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Studies have shown that Nordic walking can increase caloric expenditure by up to 46% compared to traditional walking, making it an excellent choice for weight management and overall fitness.
According to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, Nordic walking has been found to improve cardiovascular fitness by increasing maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max), which is a key indicator of aerobic endurance. The study revealed that individuals who engaged in regular Nordic walking experienced significant improvements in their VO2 max levels.
Furthermore, Nordic walking contributes to muscle strengthening and toning throughout the body. The rhythmic use of the poles activates the muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, and core, resulting in increased muscle activation compared to regular walking. It is estimated that Nordic walking can engage up to 90% of the body’s muscles, improving muscle strength and endurance.
Another benefit of Nordic walking is its positive impact on joint health. Using poles helps distribute body weight more evenly, reducing the stress on the knees, hips, and ankles. This makes Nordic walking a suitable exercise option for individuals with arthritis or joint pain, as it minimizes the impact on vulnerable joints while providing an effective workout.
Nordic walking is beneficial for physical health and significantly affects mental well-being. Engaging in outdoor activities and being surrounded by nature have been proven to reduce stress levels and improve mood. Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that Nordic walking can enhance psychological well-being, reducing feelings of tension, depression, and fatigue.
By incorporating Nordic walking into your fitness routine, you can experience these exceptional health benefits. Whether aiming to improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscles, protect your joints, or enhance your mental well-being, Nordic walking offers a comprehensive solution for holistic health improvement.
Joint Support & Reduced Impact With Nordic Walking
As I said above, one of the remarkable advantages of Nordic walking is its ability to provide joint support. It reduces impact as you walk, making it an ideal exercise for individuals with joint issues or those recovering from injuries. I am living proof that these walking poles can seriously IMPROVE YOU HEALTH!
So let’s explore how Nordic walking poles can lessen the strain on the knees, hips, and ankles and give us a more comfy and stable hike.
1. Load Distribution: During Nordic walking, the use of poles helps distribute the load more evenly throughout the body. When you plant the poles behind you and push them into the ground, the force is transmitted through the poles and into your arms, shoulders, and core. This action results in the load sharing between your upper and lower body, effectively reducing the strain on your lower joints.
2. Reduced Impact on Joints: The repetitive impact of activities like running or jogging can place excessive stress on the joints, particularly the knees, hips, and ankles. On the other hand, Nordic walking offers a lower-impact alternative that minimizes joint strain. The poles act as shock absorbers, helping cushion the impact as your feet contact the ground. This can especially benefit individuals with arthritis, osteoporosis, or joint pain.
3. Enhanced Stability and Balance: Nordic walking poles provide an additional point of contact with the ground, enhancing stability and balance. Planting the poles firmly and rhythmically as you walk creates a wider support base, reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls. This can be particularly advantageous for individuals with balance issues or regaining stability after an injury or surgery.
4. Rehabilitation and Recovery: Nordic walking has shown promising results in rehabilitation and recovery settings. The reduced impact and enhanced stability offered by Nordic walking poles make it a suitable exercise for individuals undergoing rehabilitation for joint-related injuries or surgeries. The poles provide support, assist with weight distribution, and facilitate a gradual return to regular walking activities.
5. Engaging Muscles and Supporting Joints: Using Nordic walking poles engages more muscles than regular walking. The pushing action with the poles activates the muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, and core, providing additional support to the joints and reducing the load they have to bear. This balanced muscle engagement helps maintain joint stability and can improve joint health over time.
Whether recovering from an injury, managing joint issues, or simply looking for a joint-friendly exercise option, Nordic walking with poles offers a gentle yet effective way to stay active and promote joint health.
Getting Started with Nordic Walking
Now that you understand the incredible benefits of Nordic walking, it’s time to look at getting your own set of Nordic poles. Here are my practical tips and handy hints to help you get started.
1. Essential Equipment: To begin your Nordic walking adventure, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment. First and foremost, invest in a pair of quality Nordic walking poles. These poles are designed with ergonomic handles and detachable rubber tips to suit various terrains. Adjust the poles to a length that allows for a 90-degree bend in your elbow when holding them.
2. Proper Technique: Mastering the proper technique is crucial for maximizing the benefits of Nordic walking and ensuring a safe and effective workout. Start by standing tall with your head lifted, shoulders relaxed, and core engaged. As you walk, plant the pole behind you and push it firmly into the ground as you stride forward. As your arm extends backwards, simultaneously move your opposite leg forward. Maintain a natural and rhythmic motion, allowing your whole body to engage in the movement.
3. Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Like any physical activity, warming up before Nordic walking and cooling down afterwards is essential to prevent injuries and promote recovery. Before your Nordic walking session, perform a few minutes of dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles and increase your range of motion. After your walk, conclude with static stretches to gradually cool down and promote muscle relaxation.
4. Gradual Progression: When starting Nordic walking, listening to your body and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your walks is important. Begin with shorter sessions at a comfortable pace, allowing your muscles and joints to adapt to the new movement. As you gain confidence and stamina, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your walks to challenge yourself further.
5. Join a Nordic Walking Group or Take Lessons: If you’re new to Nordic walking, joining a Nordic walking group or taking lessons from a certified instructor can be highly beneficial. These groups and classes provide a supportive and educational environment where you can learn proper techniques, receive feedback on your form, and connect with fellow Nordic walkers. They can also introduce you to new walking routes and help you stay motivated on your fitness journey.
6. Safety Considerations: When Nordic walking, prioritize safety to ensure an enjoyable experience. Dress appropriately for the weather, wear comfortable and supportive footwear, and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a hat. Stay hydrated throughout your walks and carry a small backpack for essentials such as water, snacks, and a mobile phone. If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, consult your healthcare provider before starting Nordic walking.
7. Resources and Apps: To enhance your Nordic walking experience, explore the plethora of resources and apps available. These resources can provide valuable insights into proper technique, offer guided Nordic walking sessions, track your progress, and suggest new walking routes in your area. Some popular Nordic walking apps include “Nordic Walking UK” and “Nordic Walks.”
By following these tips and guidance, you will be well-equipped to begin your Nordic walking journey. And remember, Nordic walking is not just a form of exercise; it’s an opportunity to connect with nature, boost your fitness levels, and enjoy its numerous physical and mental health benefits.
Nordic Walking Poles for Different Audiences
Nordic walking poles offer a versatile fitness tool that can benefit various audiences. This section will explore how Nordic walking poles cater to different walkers, including older people, fitness enthusiasts, people recovering from injuries, and those looking to lose weight.
1. Older People: For older adults, Nordic walking poles can provide valuable support and enhance their fitness routines. These poles offer stability and balance assistance, reducing the risk of falls and increasing confidence during outdoor activities. The best-selling Nordic walking poles I recommend for this audience include the Ayamaya Nordic Walking Poles with a 4.5-star rating, and the Effect Carbon Trekking Poles with a 4-star rating. These poles have adjustable height options and comfortable handles to accommodate different needs and preferences.
2. Fitness Enthusiasts: Fitness enthusiasts can take their workouts to the next level with Nordic walking poles. These poles add an upper-body component to walking, engaging the arms, shoulders, and core muscles. They provide a full-body workout and increase the intensity of cardiovascular exercise. Black Diamond Trekking Poles and Leki Nordic Walking Poles are popular among fitness enthusiasts, with star ratings of 4.8 and 4.6, respectively. These poles offer lightweight construction, durable materials, and ergonomic designs to support intense training sessions.
3. Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation: Individuals recovering from injuries can benefit from Nordic walking poles as a part of their rehabilitation process. These poles provide support and stability, assisting in weight distribution and promoting proper alignment. TrailBuddy Walking Poles, with a 4.7-star rating, and Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles, with a 4.4-star rating, are well-regarded options for injury recovery. These poles offer adjustable features and shock-absorbing technology to minimise the impact on joints and facilitate a gradual return to regular physical activity.
4. Weight Loss and Fitness Goals: Nordic walking poles can benefit individuals seeking weight loss and overall fitness improvement. By engaging multiple muscle groups and increasing energy expenditure, Nordic walking with poles intensifies calorie burning during workouts. Outdoor Panda Folding Hiking Poles and Trekology TrekZ Cork Handle Hiking Sticks are top-rated choices for weight loss enthusiasts, with star ratings of 4.1 and 4.5, respectively. These poles feature ergonomic grips, adjustable lengths, and sturdy construction to support vigorous exercise routines.
I think Nordic walking poles offer enough versatile options to meet everyone’s requirements, whether for stability and balance support, intense workouts, injury recovery, or weight loss efforts.
Nordic walking poles offer many benefits for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. I hope reading this article, you can see numerous advantages of incorporating Nordic walking poles into your fitness routine, including enhanced overall fitness, improved joint health, better balance and stability, and positive effects on mental and emotional well-being.
Nordic walking poles provide a full-body workout by engaging the upper body, core, and lower body muscles, improving cardiovascular fitness and increasing calorie burn. The poles offer stability and balance support, particularly beneficial for older adults and individuals recovering from injuries. With reduced impact on joints and enhanced body alignment, Nordic walking poles promote joint health and alleviate strain during physical activity.
Moreover, the rhythmic motion of walking with Nordic poles in nature’s serene environment can reduce stress, enhance mood, and contribute to overall mental and emotional well-being. The positive impact on mental clarity, cognitive function, and the opportunity to connect with nature further enhance the appeal of Nordic walking.
To embark on your Nordic walking journey, I am going to recommend considering the following top-rated products that have received favourable reviews from customers:
- Ayamaya Nordic Walking Poles: With its adjustable height options and comfortable handles, this Nordic walking pole has a 4.5-star rating, making it an excellent choice for older adults seeking stability and balance support.
- Black Diamond Trekking Poles: Fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the lightweight construction, durable materials, and ergonomic design of this Nordic walking pole, which boasts a remarkable 4.8-star rating.
- Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles: Designed specifically with injury recovery and rehabilitation in mind, this Nordic walking pole with a 4.7-star rating offers adjustable features and shock-absorbing technology to support a safe and gradual return to physical activity.
I hope you will explore these products further and select the one that best suits your needs and preferences. Give Nordic walking poles a try and witness their transformative effects on your well-being.
Start your Nordic walking journey today and experience the joy of improved fitness, joint support, balance, and mental well-being. Embrace the outdoors, engage your body, and reap the benefits of Nordic walking poles.