If you’re like most Canadians, you’re probably not spending enough time being active. Given that, how do you get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, when it comes to exercise? Nordic pole walking might be just the ticket. It uses roughly 90% of the muscles in your body and has been a fitness staple in Europe for decades. So, what are the benefits of pole walking — and why is it one of the best forms of exercise for seniors and older adults? Read on to find out.
Nordic pole walking — sometimes called Nordic walking, pole walking, or even urban pole walking — turns a simple walk into a full-body workout by incorporating the upper body and core muscles to a much greater degree. Compared to other forms of exercise, pole walking uses up to 60% more muscles and burns up to 900 calories per hour. Compare this to 240 calories per hour for regular walking or 440 calories for an aerobics fitness class, and it’s easy to see why pole walking is such a fantastic workout.
What’s more, it also improves your endurance, heart health, blood flow, strength, and resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn while at rest). Many clinical studies have shown the vast benefits of pole walking, especially for seniors. Pole walking contributes to faster weight loss, healthy weight maintenance, and improved posture, all of which become more challenging in your later years. For people recovering from knee or hip surgery or anyone with balance issues, Nordic pole walking can help you get moving again with the added support of the poles.
If pole walking is such a fantastic exercise for seniors, why is it that most North American’s have never heard of it? Nordic pole walking was developed in Finland in the early 1990s as a way for Nordic (cross-country) skiers to train during the warmer months. It took off as a low-impact form of exercise in Europe in the ensuing decades. It’s now one of the most popular types of exercise for seniors — and others — in Northern Europe. It wasn’t until recently, though, that it started gaining popularity this side of the Atlantic. Why exactly it remains largely unknown isn’t clear, but what is clear is that you should try adding it to your routine. All you need is a set of poles (available from most sporting goods stores or online) and a willingness to try something new. The benefits of pole walking speak for themselves.
Have you tried pole walking yet? What did you love about it? What challenges did you encounter? Share your answers with us in the comments below.