Nordic Walking In The Mountains

Mary Tweed
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Having brought my poles with me on my holiday in the Lake District National Park, I am having plenty of opportunities to practice my uphill - and therefore, downhill - walking technique.

Uphill Technique

Remembering all the ten points of the British Nordic Walking technique, lean forwards into the hill, push down harder on your pole to propel you forwards and upwards and maintain your normal walking pace. Ensure that you lean forward from your ankles whilst maintaining alignment all the way to your ear lobes - do not be tempted to bend at the waist. Pull your abdominal muscles in, as this will protect your back. Finally, remember to breath! Whilst Nordic Walking you should always be able to hold a conversation, so if you find yourself struggling then slow down and take deeper breaths.

Downhill Technique

Benzeeneez! You may have heard ski instructors screaming this across alpine slopes, but it is worth bearing in mind when walking downhill. Holding yourself in a sitting position with your knees bent below you, stretch your leg in front of you as you plant your foot. Try to keep your hips and shoulders parallel to the ground i.e. do not stand upright. By walking in this manner, it reduces the impact on the joints and leads to less jolting. Keep a strong downward push through the poles, as this can help serve as your brakes during your descent.

There are many advantages to Nordic Walking on hills and mountains over regular Nordic Walking on flat ground. Walking on an incline adds intensity to your workout and some of the benefits include:

Calorie Burn

Nordic Walking increases the number of calories you burn compared to normal working. However, when you Nordic Walk up or down hill you are forcing your muscles to work harder and therefore, increasing your calorie burn even more significantly.

Toning The Legs

The extra work required of your leg muscles will be felt in your thighs, calves and quads, as they help you up and down the hills. These muscles will strengthen and you will begin to notice improved definition in your leg tone.

Good For The Heart

Your heart rate will increase at a faster rate than when Nordic Walking on the flat. This will pump oxygen around your body more quickly and increase stamina.

Glucose Tolerance

An Austrian study found that walking downhill improved glucose tolerance, which is a measure of how well a person is able to move glucose out of the blood and into the cells of the body. Being glucose-intolerant puts you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Downhill walking improved their glucose tolerance by 8.2 percent, compared with a 4.5 percent improvement with uphill walking.

Although East Anglia is not known for its steep hills in the way that the Lake District is known for its mountains, there are hills to be found. To make the most out of the benefits of Nordic hill-walking, it is best to find a hill and repeat the ascent and descent a few times. If the muscles begin to ache, then remind yourself of all the wonderful benefits this technique will bring.

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