While it may seem unique to us to watch a group of seniors walking down the street with poles, it is actually a well-known exercise activity called Nordic walking. Nordic walking is popular in Scandinavian and European countries and is becoming more popular in North America. Nordic walking is especially popular among seniors due to its health benefits and ease of access.
Nordic walking is an activity that uses poles, similar to cross country skiing poles, and was developed in Finland. It was originally an off season program for body conditioning for cross-country skiers. Nordic walking engages the upper back and arms when moving the poles and supports your legs and balance when walking.
Benefits of Nordic Walking
If you love supportive outdoor exercise, Nordic walking may be the hobby for you! Nordic walking has all the benefits of regular walking, both physical and mental, with the added benefits as provided by the support of the poles. Research shows that Nordic walking has beneficial health results for both healthy individuals and those with medical conditions, especially when compared to regular walking.
The increased benefits include overall fitness such as increased cardiac fitness, strength and flexibility and is noticeably less physically strenuous. As well, for those with the goal of fat loss, Nordic walking burns more calories than regular walking. Nordic walking also improves balance while decreasing pain and muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
Nordic walking also provides benefits for those with chronic health conditions. People with vascular conditions, cardiovascular conditions, fibromyalgia and pulmonary disease are found to gain beneficial health advantages from Nordic walking. Nordic walking provides a safe and efficient form of exercise which requires accessibility to walking.
Safety Concerns for Nordic Walking
While Nordic walking can present itself as a safer alternative to regular walking, it is still important to be aware of the dangers and concerns regarding exercising outdoors. Environmental conditions still need to be considered as there can be mobility and safety risks. Seniors should check with their doctor to confirm their intentions and strategy regarding their physical fitness.
Before heading out on the trail, seniors should check the weather and seasonal conditions to ensure that their path does not have mud, ice, or snow as that could affect their ability to walk safely. As well, seniors are more affected by severe weather such as heat and cold and should avoid exercising in high or low temperatures. Seniors should always exercise within their ability level in order to improve fitness and body condition.
Nordic walking is a wonderful way of building fitness but is also a great way to build community. As Nordic walking is as easy as walking around your neighborhood, it is a great activity to ask your friends and neighbors to join in. Having more friends to walk with you is a great way to enjoy your exercise while also developing social relationships. Getting fit while building community friendships will increase your happiness and quality of life.
Nordic walking is a great way to get accessible exercise, enjoy the outdoors and build community. Ensure you are communicating with your family doctor to create a fitness plan that is tailored to you. Grab your poles and get trekking!
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