Have you tried?: Nordic walking
Nordic walking is a style of walking that uses poles to enhance movement. It’s a fluid, faster and more dynamic form of walking that uses the whole body to propel the walker.
Nordic walking is thought to have started in the 1930s in Finland. At that time competitive cross-country skiers started to use their poles for off-season training.
World Nordic Walking Day was launched in 1948 and this year the 70th anniversary is celebrated over this weekend (May 19 and 20).
Popularity of the sport grew in the nineties, and classes in Nordic walking were introduced to the UK at the start of this century.
In Scotland, you can learn to Nordic walk at sessions and courses across the country:
Why try Nordic walking?
Nordic walking is a complete body work out that can burn up to 46 per cent more calories than walking alone.
Because the activity uses poles, upper body muscles receive a good work out and the lower joints are better supported.
Nordic walkers use specialist poles that have a smaller diameter grip than trekking poles.
The poles are planted angled backwards and then pushed behind the hip to give forward propulsion.
The hand opens, much the same way you will see with a cross-country skier, and a special strap holds the pole in the correct position for when the pole is pulled forward for the next plant.
Who does it?
Nordic walking is the “fastest growing fitness activity in the world”, according to Nordic Walking UK. It’s estimated that more than 10 million people globally enjoy it year round.
For people who are already active, Nordic walking an ideal compliment to other exercise.
But, Nordic walking is also an ideal form of exercise for those who haven’t been active for a while, or dislike traditional sports or gym.
Older people and those who may be unsteady on their feet find the poles give extra support and confidence.
Nordic Walking is an easy way to exercise the entire body and gain great health benefits
10 benefits of Nordic walking
All over good for you: Exercises 90 per cent of the muscles of the body, not just the 40per cent used in ordinary walking.
Exercises the heart. Nordic walking offers a good cardiovascular training effect.
Weight loss. Nordic walking uses up to 46% more calories compared to ordinary walking. Thirty minutes of Nordic walking five times a week is a good aim.
Strengthens bones without joint trauma. Nordic Walking is as good a form of exercise as cycling or swimming but with the added benefit of being a weight-bearing, low-impact activity.
Good for posture: This form of walking releases neck and back tension and improves posture and gait. Nordic Walking encourages a more upright posture.
Spine fitness: Nordic walking rotates the trunk and enhances the mobility of the spine.
Great for the core: Nordic walking strengthens the muscles of the back and abdomen.
Good mental health: All kinds of cardiovascular exercise outdoors, including Nordic walking, are beneficial for those suffering from stress disorders and many mental illnesses.
Easy to access: Once you have learned how to Nordic walk and you have the poles and a pair of walking shoes or boots, you can do it almost anywhere and at any time.
Long-term health: Scientific research has shown that regular moderate exercise such as Nordic walking can help reduce the risk of cancer, particularly bowel, womb and breast cancer, and has great benefit for those recovering from cancer, heart attack or stroke.
LEKI Nordic walking poles
LEKI is a big name in Nordic walking and has designed and produced millions of Nordic Walking poles. I have tested Leki waling poles before and I like them.
The company has an eco-friendly production facility in the heart of Europe and has made a variety of poles for some 60 years.
According to the company, Nordic walking poles are as popular as ever. Michael Brechtelsbauer, International Sales Manager at Leki said: “Nordic walking poles represent a huge one fifth of our overall business.”
One of LEKI’s most popular Nordic Walking Poles is their unisex Leki Spin Speed Lock pole, which boasts a high strength aluminium shaft and length adjustment of 100cm to 130cm.
Other Leki innovations include:
LEKI Smart Tip 2.0 offers a slip-proof pad to ensure good traction on pavement surfaces and the integrated, telescopic carbide tip provides steady hold on grass, mud and snow. It also features an improved pad profile and tool-less pad change.
LEKI Trigger Shark 2.0 comprises a glove-integrated strap and LEKI’s revolutionary “Trigger Loop”, which enables walkers to quickly and easily click in and out.
I have been testing the Leki Instructor Lite Nordic Walking Poles recently. They feature the Trigger Shark 2.0 glove and clip-in loop.
Length adjustment: 100cm to 125cm
Adjustment system: Speedlock 2
Fold down length: 98 cm
16mm aluminium upper section HTS 6.5, 14mm 100% Carbon lower section
Grip: Cork 2-Component Shark 2.0
Strap: Trigger Shark Active
Tip: Carbide Flextip with Powergrip Pads
The poles are nice and light. I am surprised to see they are made of aluminium and carbon because I thought they were fully carbon.
They also offer a good balance and swing when walking with them. I think this is aided by the open glove that attaches to the pole handle. When you walk the poles swing like a pendulum and this helps to propel you forwards.
The cork handle offers a good level of grip. It never gets sweaty yet it is also not too smooth.
Clipping in and out of the poles requires only one hand. A thumb movement opens up the clip so you can remove you hand with the glove still on. I like that the glove stays on the hand so you do not lose it while faffing about. If you want to wear your own gloves under the Leki open gloves you simply adjust the sizing with the velcro attachment.
The poles are adjusted with a Speedlock 2 system. Basically you open the lock and extend or decrease the length of the pole. It’s easy to use, even when wearing gloves.
The poles are 95m at their shortest and this is not the smallest I have owned. It would be better if they could fold into thirds for carrying. However, the adjustment system does feel robust and that is a good thing.
The extra Powergrip Pads are very useful when walking on tarmac or hard packed trails. This stops the tips being worn out and also stops the click-click noise of metal on a hard surface. The rubber attachments come off and fit on very easily.
I really like these poles and the prices is not as high as many others.
LEKI poles are available from Ardblair Sports. See www.ardblairsports.com for stockist information.