Family Sports & Fitness
Warm Up with a Cold Country
You don’t need snow to benefit from Nordic walking, a wonderful addition to your cross-training regimen. The activity looks like cross-country skiing, but takes place on solid ground.
Developed by skiers, Nordic walking is a low impact workout that’s appropriate for all ages. The activity increases strength and endurance plus promotes balance, stability and agility. And it’s a great way to get out and enjoy the fresh air!
Equipment you’ll need:
• Poles: Choose from one-piece, with a non-adjustable shaft, or an adjustable length, telescoping two-piece pole. Both types feature grips with special Nordic walking straps.
• Poles are tipped with hard metal for dirt/rock trails, sand, snow and ice and have removable rubber tips for harder surfaces.
• Poles are generally made of lightweight aluminum, carbon fiber or composite materials.
Fingerless gloves: Reducing your need to tightly grasp the pole.
Special walking shoes are not required, just wear comfortable walking, running or trail-running shoes.
Quick start movements:
Walk with a pole in each hand.
• The pole should touch the ground with your arm extended in front of you, a slight bend at your elbow.
Swing your arm/pole forward with the opposite leg forward.
• Concentrate on passively releasing the pole by simply relaxing your hand as it passes by your hip.
Work on lengthening your stride to increase flexibility.
Why do it:
• Nordic walking develops your cardio-respiratory system, improving heart and lung functions through aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
It is an ideal activity for improving cardio-respiratory fitness because you perform at your own intensity level.
Use interval training to progressively build your anaerobic time for maximum fitness.
Aerobic exercise creates a consistently moderate heart rate, and it is performed for longer durations of time than anaerobic exercise.
• Aerobic exercise uses readily available oxygen, glycogen, and fat stores to sustain movement and pace.
• Aerobic exercise preps your body for more intense anaerobic conditioning.
Anaerobic exercise raises the heart rate to a level of intensity that is often difficult to sustain longer than seconds or minutes.
• Anaerobic activity uses fuel stored in your muscles and recently eaten food.
• Nordic walking helps build your dynamic (moving) balance and stability.
The poles challenge the upper and lower body simultaneously, resulting in better overall balance.
When the upper body moves forward, you are constantly recovering from small imbalances in the feet, ankles, legs, and pelvis.
Training for balance and becoming aware of the body’s balance centers will help you attain superior motor efficiency and athletic ability.
• Football, basketball, and many other sports benefit from improved balance and stability.
• Nordic walking can build on agility skills, such as quickness and maneuverability, for kids involved in sports. It can improve skills related to:
Starting or stopping suddenly
• The poles provide stability, allowing Nordic walkers to look ahead instead of down at the ground:
• Gazing ahead with a soft focus, taking in all around you, can improve your spinal health:
• Balance your head’s weight
• Improves posture
• Eliminates back strain
Adept vision also helps with:
• Walking crowded paths or sidewalks
• Hitting a baseball or kicking a soccer ball
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