What is Nordic Walking?
Due to its origins, Nordic walking is a bit like cross-country skiing without the skis. It is a new way of walking that can improve health, well-being and quality of life. As merely an enhanced form of natural walking, Nordic walking is suitable for all abilities and ages of people, who can walk swinging their arms. By exercising the upper and lower parts of the body simultaneously, it can:
- improve and maintain your general health and fitness
- enable you to keep fit at the level you want or need – from social walker to performance sportsperson
- provide you with a new and different outdoors leisure activity
- achieve specific health, fitness, social and emotional benefits.
The History of Nordic Walking
First developed in Finland during the 1930s for cross-country skiers to keep fit in the summer, Nordic Walking evolved into more of a recreational activity in the early 1980s. The first official Nordic Walking poles were launched in 1997 by Exel plc. Nordic Walking is apparently one of the fastest growing recreational fitness activities across the world with participants in nearly 40 countries. The International Nordic Walking Association (INWA) estimated that, globally, there were about 7 million people Nordic Walking at least once a week in 2006.* The latest data indicate that the figure is now more than 10 million**.
By the end of 2007, Nordic Walking UK (NWUK), a national organisation, claimed to have trained over 450 INWA-certified Nordic Walking Instructors in the UK. Furthermore, NWUK claimed these instructors had taught an estimated 35,000 people to Nordic walk (up from 15,000 in 2006 and 3 to 4000 in 2005).* In 2012, NWUK reported 2,000 instructors, 70,000 people taught to Nordic walk in 2011 and over 200,000 people now regularly Nordic walking in the UK***. Its latest figures indicate that over 2,500 instructors have now been trained by NWUK alone****.
Other national organisations also exist, e.g. British Nordic Walking, which is now the approved training agency for the INWA certification. Nordic Walking UK’s courses are recognised by the YMCA via its central qualification (CYQ).