Nordic walking, sometimes also called poles walking and originally developed in Finland by cross-country skiers to help them keep in shape in the summer, is one of the fastest growing recreational fitness activities in the world. Nordic walking is low-impact, a total body workout, and sociable too, it is pretty much a way of life in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Italian Dolomites and South Tyrol.
Nordic walking’s main attraction is that, unlike normal walking, it exercises the whole of a person’s body, rather than just their legs. As participants use their arms to push off from their Nordic walking poles, the whole range of upper-body muscles is used, helping to strengthen the back and the abdominal muscles.
With more muscles being used, energy consumption increases, allowing the Nordic walker to burn off an average of 20% more calories than a normal walker. And, because the arms take more of the strain, a lighter load is placed on the knees and other lower body joints, which makes the activity perfect for all ages and physical abilities.
Learn Nordic walking during your holiday. As well as a network of waymarked Nordic walking trails, most Alpine resorts – and more and more other tourism regions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy – offer ‘Nordic walking for beginners’ tutorials, run by qualified Nordic walking instructors. Booking is usually done through the local tourist office and Nordic walking poles can also be hired locally.
You walk using two specially designed, light-weight Nordic walking poles, generally with glove-type straps, pushing back on the poles as you walk, rotating your hips and shoulders. The basic Nordic walking technique takes a little getting used to, but there is a wonderful sense of freedom when it all starts to come together.
Nordic walking boosts mood, reduces stress, improves health, well-being and quality of life. Using the correct technique, Nordic walking can strengthen bones, combat osteoporosis, reduce neck and shoulder tension, alleviate symptoms of repetitive strain injury, and proves useful for cardiac rehabilitation.
Nordic walking is a fabulous way of exercising in the fresh air, taking in the beautiful views, and it’s hugely fun.
Give Nordic Walking a try!