Walking the walk
At work we have a ‘healthy living’ initiative – we’ve been offered taster sessions in bootcamps, yoga, meditation and a few other activities. I had not taken part in any until the offer of a lunchtime Nordic walking class caught my eye.
I’d never tried Nordic walking before but it reminded me of skiing a la Arctic, so I signed up. Yesterday I had my first class, my colleagues had their first class too as they reluctantly joined me!
After setting up our poles and leaving the safe environment of our office, we went walking along More London, in front of school children, businessmen and women having their lunch and many tourists. 8 of us walking along the Thames with our poles, in our work clothes created some curiosity and generated a getting a few odd looks. The somewhat predictable comments of ‘the mountain is that way’, ‘there is no snow around here love’ were making me chuckle.
To be honest, I didn’t really care about who was looking or what people were saying as I saw this as training, plus I’ve had my fair share times when I’ve looked silly over the years (attempting to ski this year, running across a road in heels and falling over, sitting on a fence and falling off etc) so I got on with it.
Nordic walking has many benefits:
- It uses 90% of the skeletal muscles
- It burns up to 46% more calories than ordinary walking
- It reduces the pressure on knees and joints
- It is great for the Heart and Lungs
- It is good for neck, shoulder and back problems
- The poles propel you, making it easier to move faster then normal without feeling the effort
- It is one of the most effective cross training techniques for athletes and sportspeople who require ultimate cardiovascular and endurance conditioning (perfect for a polar explorer!)
Nordic walking reminded me of the Arctic and I loved it. The poles are attached to your hands with a glove and because you are attached you become more relaxed (it’s impossible to drop the pole). This type of walking really does propel you; the use of the poles encourages you to stand up straight (correcting bad posture) and you walk with purpose. Your arms need to be between 40 and 60 degrees when you walk, therefore you kindof throw your arm forward to plant the pole on the ground.
You might not think that walking could give you a good workout, especially if only for an hour, but Nordic walking works your upper body as well as your legs. I also felt completely relaxed and calm afterwards, which I definitely was not before I started. You could say it’s therapeutic.
I’ve two more taster sessions booked, and I’m thinking that I might buy a set of Nordic poles to make myself look even sillier when I’m training this winter pulling a tyre around London, pretending it’s a pulk.