Nordic Walking Steps Up Benefits of Walking

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By Marianne Curtis; personal trainer and group fitness instructor, South Suburban Park and Recreation District
Posted

Nordic walking, long popular in Europe, is growing among Americans as a great way to achieve improved fitness levels through walking with poles.  This new offering by South Suburban Parks and Recreation is gaining enthusiasm by both men and women of all ages.  The outdoor walking exercise program will start up again in September with three classes per week: Monday and Wednesdays at 1:30 pm; and Wednesdays at 6 pm.   Classes will take place on the walking path at deKoevend Park, on S. University Blvd., in Centennial, adjacent to Goodson Recreation Center. 

Participants have said that taking the class has boosted their confidence when they are walking, which in turn has increased their enthusiasm for walking.  One class member said, “I am using this exercise to rehabilitate a recent injury and to get back into hiking with friends.”  Another participant pointed out that she has improved her posture as a result of using the Nordic walking poles. 

This athletic activity and sport was developed in the 1990s in Finland where cross country skiers wanted to train in the summer months. They found it was a wonderful all-over-body workout to stay in shape for the ski season, and improve balance and blood flow.   By the year 2010 there were 10 million Nordic walkers in Europe and it is the fastest growing new exercise in the history of Europe.  There are more than 3,000 instructors trained to teach Nordic walking worldwide.

Nordic Walking: 

  • Utilizes 90% of your muscles vs. 50%-70% in regular walking
  • Increases your heart rate by  10-15 beats per minute
  • Burns 20-40 % more calories than regular walking
  • Aids in stability when ascending and descending hills
  • Improves mental well being, and has shown benefits in lowering cholesterol.

The Nordic walking class uses special Nordic walking poles that are provided by the recreation center.  These poles are lighter than hiking poles, have no sculpted hand grips, utilize comfortable hand straps that keep the poles close to your hands and come with removable rubber boots for the end of the poles.  Most poles are made from lightweight aluminum, carbon fiber, or composite materials.  Poles are available to class members, or participants may bring their own.

South Suburban’s instructors teach a variety of techniques to increase the efficiency of your workout.  The Nordic walking method improves your posture, reduces impact on the joints, improves your balance, and firms and tones muscles of the arms, chest, shoulders and abdominals.

This is an excellent activity for many different fitness levels and persons with joint issues.  Walking with poles does reduce the joint impact in the hips and knees by as much as 40 percent.  Walking strengthens your bones and core muscles.  Nordic walking is adaptable to many environments:  sidewalks, dirt paths, snowy surfaces and sand.  The beauty of the sport is that you can take poles with you and do it anywhere.   Comfortable walking shoes, sneakers, or hiking shoes are all perfect footwear for this exercise. 

Take your walking routine to a new level.  Come experience the many benefits of Nordic walking.  Register for a class at sspr.org, or call 303-347-5999.

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