Nordic walking is suitable for all age groups and abilities of people who can walk, including those with some mobility limitations, offering fantastic health benefits. You may discover that Nordic walking enables you to move more easily and, therefore, to exercise at a higher intensity than you can not only when natural walking, but also when doing other physical activities.
A research study by the University of Brighton in East Sussex claims that, among healthy people aged 60 and over, the amount of energy used and the heart rate were on average 40% higher when Nordic walking compared to walking naturally1.
Improve your posture
Nordic walking is walking more actively using both the upper and the lower body, this lengthens the spine and body weight is carried more efficiently. Postural muscles are activated correctly and exercised effectively. Stability of the spine and pelvis is improved. Core muscles are engaged – these stabilise the back. The upper body rotation employed in effective Nordic walking technique is vital for keeping the spine in good condition.
Balance and co-ordination can also be improved through the added stability provided by the two poles. The aging process affects balance and co-ordination and one study of elderly, sedentary people claims that Nordic walking had a positive impact on their capacity to move2.
Reduce tension and pain in the neck, shoulder and back
Modern living means more of a sedentary lifestyle for most of us: sitting for long periods at home, at work or travelling. Combined with using computers, mobile devices and habitually carrying too much on one side of the body, back pain, neck and shoulder tension have become a very common, yet often invisible, health problem. With effective Nordic walking technique, rotation of the spine is enhanced compared to how most of us walk these days. This improves upper body mobility and strengthens spinal muscles, thus reducing the likelihood of neck, shoulder and upper back complaints3.
Use of Nordic walking poles leads to a strengthening of the large back muscles that pull the shoulder blades down. This can significantly alleviate neck and shoulder tension.
Tackle repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Ergonomically designed glove-straps (very different to the straps on trekking/natural walking poles) enable you to relax your hand as you push back into the glovestrap through the stride. This strengthens wrist muscles that can contribute to a lessening of RSI symptoms.
The International Nordic Walking Association states that “in the treatment of instability of the pelvis, of whiplash, fibromyalgia, RSI and chronic back problems, experience has shown that Nordic Walking is a beneficial practice4.”
Help yourself recover from illness and after medical treatment
The International Nordic Walking Association states that “…cardiac patients, people with overweight, diabetes, COPD (bronchitis etc.) and rheumatism have the perfect opportunity to improve their condition4…” and that other benefits of Nordic walking include aiding recovery from surgery for breast cancer and increase in bone density in relation to osteoporosis.
In these situations, it is important to introduce Nordic walking at a suitable time in consultation with an appropriate healthcare professional, e.g. your doctor or physiotherapist.