Why Nordic Walking Is a Wonderful Activity at 60 and Beyond


Nordic Walking is walking with poles. It was invented in Norway when cross country skiers wanted to train in the off-season. And it took off.

Now it is not uncommon, especially in upscale urban
areas in Canada, to see avid “polers” – solo or in groups. To me, they all look
happy and on-fire. Many of them are in our demographic. Believe me, they are on
to something.

But why is Nordic walking perfect for those over
60?

Why should you start using walking poles? The researched benefits of Nordic walking, specifically for our
demographic, are incredible:

  • improved
    core strength,
  • decreased
    pain in the neck, back and shoulders,
  • improved
    mood,
  • decrease
    in fatigue levels,
  • improved
    exercise tolerance,
  • reduced
    impact on the knee joints,
  • improved
    stability,
  • improved
    posture, and
  • increased
    amount of calories burned by 15% compared to walking.

Now, I happen to believe that many of these
benefits are combined with the benefits of simply being outside. When I first
discovered walking with poles two years ago, I was amazed at how wonderful
that activity felt, and the many added advantages in my setting.

I have Systemic Lupus with Rheumatoid
Arthritis. This means that some days I have very little energy and can lose my
balance. Overall joint and muscle pains come and go.

I use walking poles designed for
rehabilitation. This year I decided to treat them as any other assistive device
and walked right up to Airport Security with them.

No one batted an eye. In fact, they asked me
if I would be ok to walk through the Security scanner. Now my walking poles go
with me everywhere. They are my friends – always providing needed support. I
used them every day for six weeks in Europe and came home healthier and
thinner.

These poles help me to get in the green space outside more often and for longer periods of time – which, scientific research says, provides loads of health benefits.

To walk with Nordic poles, you don’t need to
do anything special at all. Just walk as usual and only use your arms. Do what
comes naturally.

Move opposite arm and leg. Step forward with
the poles in the same way that you walk. Your right leg and your left arm move
together, then your left leg and right arm. Don’t think about it too much.

Lift and plant your poles to the same distance
as your forward foot. Keep your spine erect, eyes forward, chin tucked in and
shoulders relaxed. Do not grip the pole handle too tightly.

I find it’s good advice to practice inside
first. If you like, use music and a marching beat. Look in the mirror. Have
someone take a video of you before and after. Notice how much taller you can
stand with the poles. Notice your posture. And finally, have fun!

The lead researcher for the study I mentioned above is Professor Bullo in the
Sport and Medicine Division, Department of Medicine, University of Padova,
Italy. On his team is Professor Di Bocalini in the Department of Medicine and Aging
Studies, University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti Scalo, Italy.

There is also a larger study in the Journal of Rejuvenation Research which synthesizes previous studies.

For the purpose of this study, the research
team selected only the results of studies published in peer reviewed journals.
They also narrowed the age range of participants from 60–92 years old.

When comparing Nordic Walking with its
ordinary alternative, the researchers found that the Nordic walkers showed increase
in: “dynamic balance, flexibility of the lower body, and improved quality of
life.”

You may find that there are rural and urban
poling walking groups in your area. Check them out. Start visualizing yourself
as one of them. You will be on to their secret. And the support of poles is a
wonderful way to stay outside longer. Think of the combined benefits!

What do you know about Nordic Walking? Have
you used walking poles before? What was the experience like? Please share with
our community!

Let’s Have a Conversation!



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