Nordic Walking utilizes specialized poles that engage the whole body making walking more fun and frankly, the better way to walk. Incorporating the poles increases the effectiveness of a typical walking program by increasing the use of the core and upper body muscles as well as by increasing calories burned with minimal to no increase in perceived exertion. The activity has been popular in Europe and is now rapidly growing in the United States.
Tom Rutlin from Madison, Wisconsin was the first to introduce specially designed fitness walking poles to the world in 1988 (Exerstrider Nordic Walking Poles) and is known as the ‘Father of Nordic Walking’. His concept of walking with poles was well received in Europe, especially in countries like Finland where using poles while cross-country skiing was a huge part of their culture. There, serious cross-country skiers were using poles year-round as a way to train during the months without snow. The concept of utilizing specialized Nordic walking poles for a total body workout was a natural fit for their culture. Today, over 20% of the Fins Nordic walk regularly. The other European countries recognized the many benefits of Nordic walking and the sport quickly grew in popularity. Approximately 8 million people enjoy Nordic walking throughout Europe.
It has been somewhat slower to catch on here in the United States where cross-country skiing has had less of an influence on our culture. However, the word is out and once folks give the poles a try, recognize how much fun it is along with the many benefits they get hooked. People in the United States, Canada and Asia are all welcoming this great new activity. Bernd Zimmerman, president of the American Nordic Walking Association reports that it is the fastest growing sport in the world.
Numerous research studies have verified the benefits and safety of Nordic Walking. Nordic Walking has been researched at the famous Cooper Institute in Dallas by Dr. Timothy Church as well as by a group of professors at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and professors at Michigan State University, East Lansing. Each study came to similar conclusions. Nordic walkers burn 20-40% more calories than traditional walkers. They burn 420 or more calories per hour verses 350 calories for the walkers that don’t use poles. The Nordic Walkers also have a similar rise in their oxygen consumption. One of the best aspects of Nordic walking is that people don’t feel that they work any harder than traditional walkers but they reap more benefits.
LEKI, a manufacturer of Nordic Walking Poles describes Nordic walking as “Like Walking Only Smarter”. The numerous added benefits make Nordic Walking “smarter” than traditional walking. Utilizing the poles allows one to thrust off the ground behind them and propel themselves forward. It provides an energizing whole body workout as 90% of the muscles are used. It tones the arms and upper body while actually decreasing the stress on the ankles, knees, hips and lower back. The poles increase stability and balance, which can provide additional security for those that need it. Walking with poles has been found to effectively release shoulder and neck tension. It works the core body muscles and when performed properly also improves posture. Nordic Walking can easily be enjoyed as a group offering positive social aspects in addition to the positive physical benefits. Young and old alike enjoy using the poles. It can be enjoyed by those that walk very slow or by those who enjoy going very fast. Best of all, many have reported that utilizing Nordic Walking poles makes walking more fun.
There are abundant reasons to try Nordic Walking. Once people try walking with poles it doesn’t take long for them to experience the positive benefits. The technique is simple to learn and requires just a few essential instructions for effective results. Best of all, it’s fun! Add poles to your walk and experience a whole new level of walking and wellness. It’s the better way to walk.
Revel Sports www.RevelSports.com provides Nordic walking group and individual lessons. Perry and Bonnie Dau are both LEKI and Exerstrider Certified Nordic Walking Instructors.
Bonnie has received Advanced Nordic Walking Instructor Training from Tom Rutlin of Exerstrider.
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