If you’ve never heard of nordic walking, it is an enhanced form of walking that engages your upper body and lower body, simultaneously. Nordic walking can be done by anyone with the right equipment and has many amazing physical and mental health benefits.
In fact, studies have shown that nordic walking burns more calories than conventional walking, increase your heart rate and oxygen consumption more and even improve your walking speed.
Nordic walking is done with specially designed walking poles, which are similar to ski poles. The activity is suitable for all ages and abilities and can be performed by athletes as a sport and by non-athletes for it’s range of physical and mental health benefits.
10. It Engages The Whole Body
Nordic walking combines our natural walking ability with simultaneous core and upper body activation, including your abdominals, arm muscles and back muscles. The walking poles are used to add upper body propulsion to your regular walking.
9. It Has A Lot of Indirect Health Benefits
Nordic walking can be done by people suffering from various conditions such as arthritis, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and asthma among many others. The British Walking Association have published a range of research that has been done in this area to show the different direct and indirect benefits of Nordic walking.
Due to the fact that Nordic walking is an outdoor activity you can also benefit from being in fresh air, pleasant scenery and taking in vitamin D from sunlight.
8. Keeps Your Heart Strong
A study presented at the Heart Failure Congress in May of 2012 showed that Nordic walking improved heart function in both, healthy people and heart failure patients to safely increase the intensity of their training and improve their cardio-respiratory health.
In the study, 12 heart failure patients and 12 healthy individuals completed 2 x 6 minute walking tests at 5km/h walking speed. The results revealed a 37% increase in oxygen consumption (VO2) and 5% increase in respiratory quotient in the healthy group. Respectively, an increase of 14.5% in VO2 and 18% in respiratory quotient was recorded in the heart failure group.
7. It Helps Your Back
When used correctly, the walking poles can improve your posture, lengthen the spine and help you distribute weight more efficiently when walking. When used correctly, the walking poles can improve your posture, lengthen the spine and help you distribute weight more efficiently when walking. Research published by the International Nordic Walking Federation, using the poles correctly can activate the deep muscles of your abdomen, as well as your back muscles including your lats, rear delts, traps and lower back.
Another benefit of Nordic walking is that requires more rotation from your upper body while walking, which helps to lubricate the intervertebral discs in your spine.
6. It Can Boost Your Mood
Leading mental health charity Mind advocates the use of “ecotherapy” as a clinically proven treatment for certain mental health conditions. Ecotherapy is a treatment which consists of performing an outdoor activity in nature. Nordic walking is a great way to exercise in a “green” environment, which has been shown to work as an effective natural antidepressant in treating mild to moderate depression in both, short and long term.
5. It Can Improve Weight Loss
Nordic walking has been shown to increase heart rate 10-15% more than regular walking, which results in more calories being burned. Due to the fact that you’re distributing some of your weight through the walking poles, Nordic walking feels less exhausting than regular walking. Despite the higher energy requirements, it feels easier so you are able to exercise for longer.
4. Improves Your Balance and Stability
The use of walking poles gives you additional stability and can benefit anyone with balance problems. A report on muscle and bone strengthening published by Public Health England in 2018 showed that Nordic walking is a great way to improve balance, stability and muscle function in adults and older adults.
3. Strengthen Your Neck and Shoulder Muscles
By using the walking poles to help you propel yourself, you’ll also be using your upper body a lot more than regular walking. This can help you to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles. Strengthening these areas can relieve tension, as well as improve your overall upper body mobility.
2. Improve Your VO2 and Burn More Calories
According to a study published by the Cooper Institute, when compared to regular walking Nordic walking on average has a 20% higher oxygen consumption, calorie expenditure and heart rate. In the study, 22 men and women aged 31 compared the physical demands of regular walking and Nordic walking. The results showed that oxygen consumption was 5-63% higher than regular walking. This huge difference was attributed to the differences in pole technique and intensity.
1. It’s Safer Than Running
Running puts a lot of strain on your hips, knees and ankles. Nordic walking can reduce your risk of injury or negative long-term effects on your lower body joints.
This article first appeared on GYMNASIUMPOST.com on 16th August, 2020.