Licensed to Walk

Mary Tweed
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With this week’s release of Spectre, set to be the most successful Bond film of all time, I couldn’t resist letting my imagination fly and finding parallels between James Bond and the benefits of Nordic Walking.

One of Bond’s most significant characteristics is his confidence, which never fails him whether facing down an evil villain, seducing a beautiful woman or even accompanying Her Majesty to the Olympic Games. What aspect best conveys this confidence to audiences around the world? Why, it is his gait of course. All the actors who have played Bond have received coaching on how to walk, in order to epitomise confidence. If you analyse any of them as they walk across the screen within the famous gun barrel frame, you will notice they walk with an upright carriage, shoulders back, chest out and chin parallel to the ground. Remind you of anything…..?

It is no coincidence that he adopts this stance. By standing in a confident way as described above, subconscious messages are sent to the brain that result in a person actually feeling more confident. In an experiment by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, a group of people was instructed to assume a high-power pose; standing tall, arms open and wide, thus taking up a lot of space. Meanwhile another group adopted a low-power pose by folding their arms inwards and slouching. Both groups had to maintain their poses for two minutes. After just this short time, the high-power pose group’s testosterone levels increased 20% and their cortisol levels decreased 25%. Whereas for the low-power pose group results, their pose had the inverse effect – testosterone dropped 10% and cortisol increased 15%. In other words, the high power pose group gained a sprinkling of James Bond’s magic. Bond needs low cortisol levels in order to remain calm when knowingly walking into Oberhauser’s lair, whilst his high testosterone enables him to react quickly in the face of a ticking bomb.

Nordic Walking’s emphasis on correct posture involves people adopting a high power pose. Admittedly a Nordic Walker does not hold their arms out wide, but the long arm swing does involve taking up a fair amount of space and, importantly, prevents slouching.

James Bond has tried many sports in his time: skiing, scuba diving, golf and sky diving. Perhaps a future incarnation will see him Nordic Walking. The spikes on the tips of Nordic Walking poles do bring Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love) to mind, but I am sure that Q could tinker with the basic design to enable bullets or lasers to be fired from the handles, or turn them into antennae to send and receive messages.

Next time you are out Nordic Walking, rather than remembering the usual mantras (shoulders back, chest out and looking ahead), just think about trying to walk more like James Bond and see if you feel more confident. If your technique is correct you should certainly look more like James Bond. In other words, Nordic Walking makes you look cool!

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