POLE- ETRY IN MOTION
Ratchet up your walking and get ‘ more out of your workout’
Looking to spice up your workout with something new?
Try urban poling, recommends Regina physiotherapist Donna Alport who has been pole walking for a decade.
By adding poles to your walk, you can make it a full body workout, using up to 90 per cent of your body’s muscles, and burning significantly more calories, she points out.
“So you’re really getting more out of your workout.”
Poling combines the aerobic and strength- building benefits of cross- country skiing with the lowerbody work of regular walking.
“It is a great activity that can be performed by people of all ages and almost all fitness levels,” Alport says.
“You will burn 20 to 46 per cent more calories, while reducing stress on hips, knees, ankles and lower back,” a poster pitching a pole walking class states.
You may have seen people walk through a park with what look like ski poles. The Nordic style of walking is becoming a popular way to get fit.
There are four types of poles and two kinds of pole walking — one using straight arms, the other with arms bent at a 90- degree angle, explains Regina exercise therapist Cayt Foulston.
Both activator poles and Nordic/ fitness poles are collapsible. They vary in price, averaging at around $ 100.
Activator poles are designed for people with balance issues, with joint problems or with neurological problems. Foulston uses them, for example, when teaching people with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
And therapist Jenna Leib uses them in her breast cancer rehabilitation classes.
“They’re more of a stabilizing pole,” Alport explains.
Less exertion is required compared to Nordic walking or fitness walking poles.
The urban pole is targeted at fitness enthusiasts.
“Even though I have an arthritic knee, it allows me to get a great workout without the challenge to my joint,” Alport says. “And you get a great cardio workout, as well as strength and core.”
Poling is ideal for people, like herself, Alport says, who can’t run anymore due to worn out joints, but who are determined to remain fit and strong. An avid cyclist, she also uses poling as a cross- training tool.
“Anybody can do it,” she insists. “Young people can do it if they don’t like to run.”
Baby boomers, in particular, appear to be embracing urban poling, she says.
“There are more and more boomers who can’t run, so they’re looking for other activities. But we have people in their 80s who are poling; we have people in their 70s who are poling. So you can do this for an indefinite period of time, as long as you can move.
“I’m an advocate. It’s catching on. We’ve had a lot of interest in it.”
“If people took poles and walked on their coffee break for 15 minutes, twice a day, it would make a difference in their life. Or ( do it) on their lunch break,” Alport says.
“So it’s something you can integrate very easily.”
“It’s a really good safe, effective, low- impact activity,” Foulston says.
“But it depends what kind of individual you are and what you’re looking for out of the walking, to determine which poles you should use.”
Whatever the age of the poler, it’s critical to learn proper technique, Alport emphasizes.
“I see a lot of people with poles in the park and they aren’t using them properly. I think it’s really important if you want the function from it that you use the proper technique.”
When using activator poles, for example, it’s important to “keep a nice tall posture,” Foulston explains.
“You want to have 90 degrees at your arm. And you really want to mimic the regular walking pattern. A lot of people tend to over- think it. ... As your right leg goes forward, your left arm will go forward.”
A common mistake is bad posture often rounded from prolonged periods at a desk.
Activator poles should remain vertical to the ground, not angled. Otherwise, the pole boots won’t provide the balance and stability they’re designed to.
Nordic walking/ fitness walking poles feature a boot- shaped tip that propels users forward to increase walking speed.
“A lot of people are skeptical to start,” Foulston says. “It’s like you’re cross- country skiing, minus the skis. But it’s really taking those benefits, the strength and the aerobic, and building it into walking. It’s definitely becoming more popular.”