Nordic walking is a physical activity that has been growing in popularity. Today a modern sport, the activity was invented, in the first decades of the 20th century, by Finish cross-country skiers who were looking for a way to train during the off-season months.
In a nutshell, Nordic walking refers to the activity of walking with the aid of specially-designed poles. The role of these poles is to provide additional support, to take some of the weight off your knees and allow you to work out both your lower and upper body at the same time. This form of exercise is quite beneficial and can help us improve our fitness level and our overall health. Here’s how:
Burn Calories and Lose Weight
One of the most important benefits of Nordic walking is that it can help you lose weight. In comparison to regular walking, this type of activity is more intense, since it engages considerably more muscle groups, and therefore allows you to burn 20% more calories on average. A 165-lbs (75 kg) adult who will walk for 30 minutes at a moderate pace (3.5 to 4 mph) will burn 189 calories. If the walk is uphill, the total calorie burn for half an hour will be 268.
Improve Lung Function
We know it by now, walking in general can be a very good cardio workout. Nordic walking is no exception to the rule. Engaging in this activity is an efficient way to improve your oxygenation and your cardiorespiratory endurance. And this is not hearsay, it’s backed up by science. Studies have shown that Nordic walking has a direct positive influence on patients with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). According to researchers, this form of exercise comes with both short- and long-term benefits when it comes to pulmonary rehabilitation.
Better Blood Circulation
In general, physical activity done at a higher pace has the power to improve blood circulation and hence allow vital organs such as our heart to function properly. Because it involves a certain degree of intensity, Nordic walking is an excellent type of workout from this perspective. Medical studies have shown that this particular form of exercise can improve the venous blood flow in lower extremities and reduce the risk of certain diseases caused by poor circulation.
Build Stronger Muscles
Nordic walking is great for building muscles. Due to its nature, this activity is designed to engage a larger variety of muscles groups in comparison to normal waking. In addition to your legs, in a single session you get to work your arms, pectorals, shoulders, back or abs as well. Basically, you activate 90% of your body’s muscles. Moreover, because it’s a weight-bearing and resistance activity, it can increase your bone mineral density and therefore improve your bone health.
Better Balance and Coordination
Improving our balance can help us move with greater ease and prevent us from suffering injuries or falls. One of the advantages of Nordic walking is the fact that it can help you develop better balance and coordination. This is due to the type of movements required by this activity and the use of poles. During your walk you get to put to the test both your upper and lower body at the same time, which will lead to a better balance.
Less Pressure on your Joints
Some people run away from aerobic exercise due to the risk of joint pains. In comparison to other outdoor activities, Nordic walking will exert considerably less pressure on your joints. By using the walking poles you get to distribute some of the weight to those poles and hence better protect your knee or hip joints. Moreover, according to research, Nordic walking can also reduce the load of the lumbar spine and lower limb joints in comparison to normal walking.
Enhance Mental Wellbeing
Exercising outdoors, in the middle of nature, is great not only for the body, but the mind as well. Engaging in a physical activity like Nordic walking on a constant basis can help you relieve tension and stress, improve your mood and raise your self-esteem by setting and reaching goals. In addition to that, it gives you the chance to connect with other people, to share your experiences and offer and receive emotional support.
Tip: Track your Walks
If you want to get the most out of your Nordic walks, it’s a good idea to record and keep track of your activity. You can easily do this using your phone. Simply download a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker and you’re all set. This way you’ll be able to track a series of fitness metrics, such as your step count, distance walked, calories burned or active time, and also set various goals according to your own needs and preferences.
Tracking your walks is great from several standpoints. First of all, because you’ll know exactly how active you’ve been instead of under- or overestimating your results. Second of all, setting a certain target and being able to visualize your progress will only motivate you to keep on going until you reach that target. Moreover, achieving that goal will make you feel positive about yourself and help you raise your self-confidence. Hence it will be more likely to stay committed to your fitness routine in the long run and become healthier and happier.