Hold on tight with Nordic walking
Adding poles to walking creates a full-body workout with extra support
People that want to take their daily stroll through the park to the next level, should grab some poles and give Nordic walking a try.
“Nordic walking is a form of physical activity, where regular, natural walking is enhanced by the addition of the active use of a pair of specially-designed Nordic walking poles,” stated the International Nordic Walking Federation website at www.inwa-nordicw-alking.com.
The activity began in Finland during the early 20th century. The low-stress and total body workout became a favorite exercise for Europeans, according to the American Nordic Walking Association website at www.amercannordicwalking.com.
“In Europe, you’ll see people Nordic walking all the time, more so than (regular) walking,” said Lucie Bergeyova, who grew up in the Czech Republic.
Bergeyova was a member of the Czech National Biathlon team which involves cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. She said many European athletes that cross-country ski use Nordic walking to continue training in the summer because the arm movements are similar for both activities.
Last month, Bergeyova led a Nordic walking seminar for educators during the “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Institute” held in Pottstown. Bergeyova is the physical education and family consumer science lead teacher at Boyertown Area Senior High School. She said both students and staff of the Boyertown Area School District have done Nordic walking. The students have used it as a physical activity before state testing and as part of an outdoor education course. Staff have participated through sessions part of wellness days at the school.
“It is an awesome, very effective cardiovascular workout. It will engage over 90 percent of your body’s total muscle mass,” Bergeyova said.
She said regular walking usually only engages muscles from the waist down but adding walking poles engages the upper body as well. She said the poles help exercise the abs, back muscles, biceps, triceps and more.
Bergeyova said Nordic walking is a great way to enhance a normal walking routine. She said the activity burns up to 40 percent more calories than regular walking. People burn about 280 calories per hour with regular walking but can burn about 400 calories per hour with Nordic walking. Bergeyova said the arm movements really make a difference with the kind of workout people can get through walking.
The activity is a great option for older adults that have joint pain since the poles help to relieve some of that pressure when walking.
“You have extra support,” Bergeyova said.
Christian Becker, a certified Nordic walking instructor, said the activity is simple and something that anyone can do, no matter their fitness level. He said people can build up their stamina through Nordic walking within just a few weeks. He said the exercise is very gentle on the joints which makes it ideal for those that may be suffering from certain injuries.
Becker said the Nordic walking technique is very simple and that your hands are attached to the poles to make it even easier. He said as people walk in a forward motion, they push down on the pole as it trails behind them creating a longer stride. Becker said the movement is easy to learn and people usually get the hang of it within a half hour.
Becker, originally from France, has been walking and hiking for much of his life. He said Nordic waking is very common in Europe but not so much in the U.S. A few years ago, he became certified and started a local Nordic walking group in 2012. By Foot Again offers clinics about Nordic Walking and its benefits. A group does the walking activity every Saturday morning in and around Valley Forge National Park.
Becker said the Nordic walking group is a great social activity because people are able to exercise with others and talk about life at the same time. The group usually walks about five miles each time which takes about two hours. Becker said walking that distance by yourself can get boring at times.
“When you’re in a group what’s different is that you don’t see time, you just stride,” he said adding that it’s also a time to enjoy the outdoors.
For more information about Becker’s Nordic walking group, By Foot Again, visit the website at www.byfootagain.com or call him at 484-636-9499. For more information about how Lucie Bergeyova is using Nordic Walking in the Boyertown Area School District, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 610-369-7435, ext. 5454. For more information about Nordic walking in general including the technique used for the exercise, visit the American Nordic Walking Association website at www.americannordicwalking.com.
For more healthy living stories including recipes, visit the Fit for Life website at www.pottsme-rcfit4life.com.
Lucie Bergeyova, far left, leads a seminar in Nordic Walking at the Pottstown Middle School. The group used the walking poles to do several stretches during the session.
People use skiing poles to try out Nordic Walking during a seminar at Pottstown Middle School.
A group of educators practice their arm movements during a Nordic walking seminar at Pottstown Middle School for the “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Institute.”
People try Nordic walking for the first time during the “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Institute” held at the Pottstown Middle School.
Lucie Bergeyova, on the right, teaches a man the technique for Nordic Walking during a seminar at the Pottstown Middle School.
A group of educators participate in a Nordic walking seminar at Pottstown Middle School during the “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Institute.” The educators learned how they could incorporate the European activity into the school day.