Thursday, 16 August 2007

Nordic Walking

Whilst in Austria, I enjoyed Nordic Walking seven times so looked up the following information about this sport:

"Originating from summer training for cross-country skiers, Nordic Walking works your upper and lower body at the same time, strengthening your back, legs and arms, and reducing neck and shoulder tension - all this while improving the health of your heart and lungs. You can gain all these health benefits, and more, while Nordic Walking with your friends; exercise intensity is determined by upper body effort so people of differing fitness levels can walk and talk together, while working to their own level with Nordic Walking.

With a little bit of Nordic Walking practice you will find that even though your heart, lungs and body are working harder Nordic Walking can feel easier and less tiring than normal walking.

Developed in 1997 in Finland, where 12 per cent of the adult population engage in it every week, Nordic walking is sometimes described as cross-country skiing without the skis and it is quietly winning over an army of outdoor enthusiasts. It is estimated that about 3.5 million across Europe now do it regularly, urged on by some 3,000 trained instructors.

The activity's ability to boost fitness levels has been recognised by politicians and business. In Germany, the government refunds the cost of attending a certified course for hospital outpatients. Two health insurance firms in Switzerland offer policyholders financial bonuses if they attend Nordic walking courses.

Nordic walking's chief attraction is that, unlike normal walking, it exercises the whole of a person's body, rather than just their legs. As participants use their arms to push off from their flexible poles, the whole range of upper-body muscles are used, helping to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. Enthusiasts say it uses 90 per cent of the body's skeletal muscles. With more muscles being used, energy consumption increases, allowing the average Nordic walker to burn off up to 46 per cent more calories than a normal walker. And because the arms take more of the strain, a lighter load is placed on the knees and other lower body joints, which has made the activity popular with elderly outdoor enthusiasts. Among claims made for Nordic walking is that it can strengthen bones, combat the effects of osteoporosis, reduce neck and shoulder tension and alleviate symptoms of repetitive strain injury."

me Nordic Walking to the Krimml Waterfalls in the Tirol, Austria

So, I am glad I bought my own poles and have a local Nordic Walking instructor here in Ham, Limburg, Belgium. We go walking on Sunday with my instructor, An Caelen, who can be reached on

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