Nordic walking is essentially walking enhanced by the use of Nordic walking poles. This form of exercise began in Finland and was used as part of summer training for cross-country skiers. Recreational Nordic Walking started in the 1980s and later the International Nordic Walking Association (INWA) was established. Today there are approximately 8-10 million people who do Nordic walking on a weekly basis.
Nordic walking is relatively new to Australia and was pioneered here by the founder of Nordic walking Australia, Hans Wrang, who was first was first introduced to the activity by family and friends on a visit to Denmark about 4 years ago. Wrang says he was initially drawn to nordic walking because it is “a different and fantastic way to stay active”. He also believed that Australia was a perfect venue for the sport due to the perfect locations and climate that we have available to us here.
So just how is Nordic walking different to ‘regular’ walking?
The main difference is that you are actively engaging your upper body as you walk through the use of Nordic walking poles. Wrang says that Nordic walking has proven cardiovascular benefits as it may increase the heart rate and burn more calories than regular walking.
While jogging is a great way to build cardiovascular health, it can at times be monotonous and hard on the joints. Wrang says Nordic walking decreases the strain on the lower legs through the use of the arms to propel the body forward.
Nordic walking may also be an effective tool for people undergoing injury rehabilitation. In Europe, says Wrang, Nordic walking is being used as part of the recovery process after hip and knee replacement procedures.
Who can Nordic walk?
At Nordic Walking Australia, they say that anyone who can walk can Nordic walk! This makes it a great option for people of all ages – from the young to the young at heart. Nordic walking is also perfect for those people who were previously involved in higher impact activities, such as certain team sports or running, and want to stay in shape without further wear and tear to the body. Also, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you can adjust the intensity of your workout to suit your current level of fitness.
Nordic walking can be done just about anywhere – where you can walk you can Nordic walk. As it involves a consistent striding motion, the main consideration is that your walk should be on a surface where you can walk at a constant pace. Good Nordic walking poles will have an angle spiked tip for natural surfaces such as grass and a removable rubber tip for walking on hard surfaces such as asphalt.
So how do you get started? Nordic Walking Australia has qualified and INWA accredited instructors throughout the country. Hans Wrang recommends learning the correct technique from an instructor when starting out to get the greatest benefit from your workout. A beginner’s program usually involves four lessons once a week.
Wrang emphasises that Nordic walking is fantastic for social interaction and a great group activity. And while you may feel a little silly walking with poles at first, Wrang encourages people to get together with a group of friends and give it a try. “Once people try it and see that it really works, feeling silly is no longer an issue.”
For more information on Nordic walking and to locate an instructor in your local area visit the Nordic walking Australia website: http://www.nordicwalkingaustralia.com.au/
Did you know? Nordic walking Consumes approximately 400 calories per hour (compared with 280 calories per hour for normal walking)
References available on request