Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada
Walking for fitness more effective with poles
Published Monday January 12th, 2009
Scott Campbell of Incline Sports
GUEST COLUMN — We all know how important it is to stay mobile and active. If you look outside, you will notice that walking is a popular way to get some exercise. It is, however, difficult to reap large fitness rewards by walking. Today I want to talk about other walking activities that can easily boost your results and help you reach your goal.
What is nordic walking? It is walking with poles. Poles designed for nordic walking are best and the length is also key. The nordic walking technique will give you similar benefits to cross country skiing. There can be an increase in oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure of up to 40 per cent.
Regular walking only uses the legs, while the arms are used for balance. Vigorous arm action will help increase walking speed and drive your legs. Using Nordic Walking poles, you add resistance to the arm action. This engages the core, chest, back and arm muscles.
Many people suffer from back, hip, knee and ankle pain due to too much weight on the joints, loading misaligned joints, lack of spinal stability, and injury, etc. Hard paved surfaces contribute to impact-related injuries. The nordic walking poles simulate two extra legs, giving the body a beneficial weight distribution. This results in less stress on the joints.
Nordic walking increases muscular endurance in the upper body, which seems to have a positive effect on muscles involved in daily work tasks.
Nordic Walking requires torso rotation with each step. This increases the flexibility of the muscles in the thoracic area. A number of posterior and anterior upper body muscles originate on the thoracic spine and ribcage. These muscles increase in mobility as a result of the torso rotation.
Hikers and trekkers who walk on rough terrain and carry large loads have long used poles for added stability. Any individual who has a problem with balance can receive great benefits from the stability provided by the nordic walking poles. The poles can be beneficial to pregnant women as they experience a changing center of gravity. It is like walking with two extra legs.
People have given up running when they have learned that they can achieve the same heart rate from nordic walking as they can with running. This is due to the increase in muscle usage. The upper body is working in nordic walking. This causes a greater demand for oxygenated blood. As the walker becomes more conditioned, he can use more challenging terrain to reach a higher intensity workout.
Many nordic walkers say they have more fun nordic walking than regular walking because it gives them more variety and definitely more exercise!