You see them in the park…the bolder ones out on the city streets. Walking with poles in hand, they attract almost as much attention as a celebrity on a red carpet…and they are getting 6 pack abs while they do it!
I’m talking about Nordic walkers…and I know all the about the stares, comments, and ski bunny jokes…because I’m a Nordic walking addict!
The first time I saw someone Nordic walking was a few years ago, and since the guy doing it was not much older than I and looked to be in terrific shape, I was immediately interested.
Nordic walking has become increasingly popular in North America. Done with correct technique, it improves posture and engages up to 90% of the body’s muscles (about 600 muscles) as opposed to the 300 muscles used with regular walking.
Nordic walking is ideal for those eager to get a 6 pack and burn extra calories – as much as 30% more than with regular walking.
Actually, I’ve been Nordic walking for some time and have really taken to it. While I did probably look a little funny as I got the hang of it during my first few walks, once I did, there was no stopping me. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I have become a certified Nordic walking instructor and my company, Everfit, will begin offering Nordic Walkfit classes in the fall. I’ve poled hundreds of kilometres this spring and summer!
Nordic walking involves holding walking poles in each hand. As you stride forward with your left foot, you move the right pole forward, and vice versa. The poles encourage walkers to safely increase the length of their stride, and the swinging arm and torso motion ensures a better upper body workout. Take up Nordic walking and you’ll engage your deltoids, lats, pecs, and triceps – and your abdominal muscles. Research shows that for every mile you pole, you engage your abs 1800 times. Bring it on!
Nordic walking is a terrific full-body form of fitness for new moms, dads, and entire families – including many grandparents. Unfortunately I occasionally see frail elderly people using walking poles when canes or walkers would be more appropriate. It’s important to think of walking poles as fitness equipment – much like ski poles (although they’re quite different!).
In the Toronto-area, I’m finding that many of Everfit’s Walkfit and Bikefit class participants, as well as many of my serious cyclist friends, are interested in poling for the cross training benefits and upper body conditioning it provides. You can expect Nordic walking to increase your heart rate and to put you into the fat burning zone. Done correctly, it’s also helpful in relieving neck and shoulder stress and in improving poor posture. It’s ideal for anyone sitting at a desk or computer all day.
The prediction is that Nordic walking will “take off” in Canada in the next couple of years. It’s inexpesive (you do need to invest in good quality poles – see Urban Poling’s website as a starting point) and you need quality footwear – but that’s about it! So start nordic walking in your town today and put yourself on the path to 6 pack abs!