Walking is a terrific, popular form of relaxation and exercise, of course.
But what if you could jazz it up with a couple of poles?
That’s the premise behind urban poling, or Nordic walking, which is growing in popularity in North America after making a splash in Europe. It was developed to train cross-country skiers, but its health benefits for everyone were quickly discovered.
“Nordic walking is not very different from regular walking—you’re just adding ski poles for your hands,” says champ Karen Asp. “Once you get the hang of it, you can cruise along and even achieve a similar intensity as running but with less perceived exertion.”
The poles distribute the workload among all four limbs, so it’s less stressful on the body than running. It can also help you maintain a more erect posture, putting less stress on the back.
The American Nordic Walking Association says it engages your core much more and is solid upper-body workout. It’s also low-impact, and easy on the knees and other joints.
Harvard Medical School says, “Nordic walking combines cardiovascular exercise with a vigorous muscle workout for your shoulders, arms, core, and legs.” It uses 90 percent of your muscles, not just the half below your waist.
The poles are good for balance, Harvard says. “Nordic walking is also associated with reductions in fat mass, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and waist circumference.”
You can do it in urban settings, parks or trails. And all you need is a pair of poles, which you can order online for between $20 and $200, like these lightweight aluminum Nordic walking poles from Amazon.
So, spice up your walk and enjoy the outdoors.
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