Why make Nordic Walking your New Year's Resolution

Katharine Green
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Wikipedia defines 'A New Year's resolution as a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year's Day'.

It's nearly a year since we wrote our first blog and with talk of New Year’s resolutions, it seems an opportune time to remind ourselves of all the fantastic benefits of Nordic walking. Research shows that 90% of people who make a New Year's Resolution, fail to achieve it. Why bother, you may ask? If it's going to make you look healthier, feel great and live longer…. that's why.

A key mistake is setting the bar too high when it comes to starting a new exercise regime, it’s about making realistic, small changes to begin with. The 10,000 step challenge can be a good place to start. The great thing about Nordic walking is you can do it anywhere and at anytime. All you need is some appropriate walking shoes, waterproof ones are advisable in the winter (if you need advise see; 'The Right footwear?') and a pair of poles (see Mary’s guide to poles). If you are walking in the Suffolk countryside don’t be put off by the mud at this time of year, remember it all helps with toning the bottom and leg muscles.

Nordic walking is a total body workout, using 90% of our skeletal muscles and burning up to 46% more calories than ordinary walking. It helps reduce neck and shoulder tension, so as well as being a great work out is a good way to relax and de-stress. It works your core with very low perceived effort, and the heel to toe roll helps tone your glutes and leg muscles. It's low impact on the joints, but equally good for building bone density when walking briskly. Not only can exercise help lower cholesterol, but it can help control blood pressure.

Walking Technique

There’s has been much in the press recently about how going for regular brisk walks is the best form of exercise for your health. By the addition of poles, the upper body becomes involved, and walking really does become a workout. ‘Active Walking’ and ‘Nordic walking without poles', are a good recap of the correct walking technique.

Improved Mood and Sense of Well being

The start of a New Year is a good time to take up a new hobby. Both exercising and learning a new skill are proven to help stimulate the brain (Exercise makes you Brainy) and are good for your mood and sense of well being. We have written many blogs around this subject as it is an underlying theme of Nordic walking: Walk yourself Happy, Walking Mindfully, The Benefits of group exercise and how exercise helps us sleep. Last year Clare Balding discovered the link with Nordic walking and the charity MIND.

Combating Age

As we age it becomes increasingly important to keep fit and healthy. If we don’t use our muscles, we will lose our muscles. Focusing on balance and coordination are crucial for older age adults (refer to ‘Bilateral Coordination’). Nordic walking focuses on our posture, and is great for our spine and back health (see Why Nordic walking keeps us Young). It helps with flexibility and circulation.

Most importantly Nordic walking is fun and sociable, so once you've tried it there will be no chance of giving up this new year's resolution.

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