Hold on tight with Nordic walk­ing.

Adding poles to walk­ing cre­ates a full-body work­out with ex­tra sup­port

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @MichileaP on Twitter

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.in­wanordicwalk­ing.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 with in 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

twohours. 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 theweb­site at www.by­foota­gain.co­mor call hi­mat 484-636-9499. For more in­for­ma­tion about how Lu­cie Bergey­ova is us­ing Nordic Walk­ing in the Boy­er­town Area School Dis­trict, email her at lbergey­ova@boy­er­tow­nasd.org or call her at 610-369-7435, ext. 5454. For­more 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.pottsmer­c­fit4life.com.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

A group of ed­u­ca­tors prac­tice their arm move­ments dur­ing a Nordic walk­ing sem­i­nar at Pottstown Mid­dle School for the “Healthy Bod­ies, Healthy Minds In­sti­tute.”

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lu­cie Bergey­ova, on the right, teaches a man the tech­nique for Nordic Walk­ing dur­ing a sem­i­nar at the Pottstown Mid­dle School.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Peo­ple use ski­ing poles to try out Nordic Walk­ing dur­ing a sem­i­nar at Pottstown Mid­dle School.

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