Nordic walking benefits health and quality of life | Exteriornw

Nordic walking has become popular for its combined health benefits and social aspects, making it accessible to a variety of people.

This type of walking originated in Finland in the 1930s, according to the American Nordic Walking Association (ANWA). It requires special poles with a glove-like system, unlike other models used for hiking with bracelets.

Evidence shows that Nordic walking burns 18-67% more calories than regular walking, according to a report from Harvard Health Publishing.

Nordic walking has been proven to reduce depression, anxiety, waist circumference and chronic pain, according to the report. Exercise is also known to increase muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and overall quality of life.

The community building aspect is another reason people get into Nordic walking. Groups created on social media sites, like Facebook, allow neighbors to connect while exercising.

Team Survivor Northwest, a local non-profit organization, organizes a Nordic walking group with weekly meetings throughout the year. The organization enables women with cancer to pursue fitness, health and wellness services. Group meetings alternate between the West Side and East Side of Seattle from 10:30 a.m. to noon every Thursday morning.

Use the right technique:

Practicing the correct Nordic walking technique is the best way to ensure a full body workout. When done correctly, this workout will strengthen your core, arms, chest, back, butt, and legs. And it will also relieve the ankles, knees and hip joints.

Walking normally while carrying Nordic poles is called the “two-wheel drive” technique, according to ANWA. It is considered “four-wheel drive” when the upper body is used and the poles are properly gripped.

The hands should be in a “grip-n-go” state with the pole, grabbing the pole when it hits the ground and releasing it when it is lifted behind the body. Walkers must complete the technique with an open hand, the ANWA website states.

As the arms continue to move the poles, the torso and hips should be involved in a lower body counter-oscillating motion. This effectively works the mid-torso muscle groups.

Keep the poles close to your body, lean slightly forward and remember to open and close your hand with each step.

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Richard V. Johnson