Nordic walking, sometimes called pole walking, is a physical activity that uses poles to help the walker engage more muscle groups with each step than ordinary walking. Some athletes consider Nordic walking a sport, but it can be used by non-athletes to increase their general fitness level and to burn calories.
Since Nordic walking uses muscles in the chest, arms, shoulders and abdomen, you can expect your heart rate to increase as you walk with the poles. Nordic walking looks a lot like normal walking, except that the poles are added to each step so the rhythm is step-pole-step-pole.
There are lots of brief training videos available online and you can learn the basics in about 10 minutes. This is a good introductory video that also reviews some of the benefits of Nordic walking. This instructor’s technique might not be the best match for your body type, so it’s good to watch a few videos and get a sense of what stride works best for you.
There are two kinds of Nordic walking poles – fixed length and adjustable. Telescoping poles can be used by multiple walkers since their height can be adjusted. The telescoping poles are also easier to travel with. For serious Nordic walkers, the non-adjustable versions are stronger and lighter, but they have to match the user’s height and stride. The poles are generally made from light gauge aluminum or carbon or a combination of other materials.
Poles come with different kinds of wrist straps so it’s important to find a style that fit your hands. Although the poles can be used without wrist straps, the straps make it possible to walk without needing to hold onto the pole too firmly. Depending on the walking surface, you have the option of using the poles tips as is (best for softer walking surfaces such as trails or sand) or adding removable rubber tips for better navigation on hard surfaces.
There’s no need for special shoes to do Nordic walking. Whatever shoes you find comfortable and supportive are fine for use with the poles.
For people who sit at a desk all day or who have back or neck pain should shoot for about 30 minutes of Nordic walking two or three times a week. If you can’t walk that long in the beginning, there’s no problem to start more gradually. You might want to consider investing in a lesson to learn the technique from an expert before you set out on your own.
Because it requires minimal equipment and doesn’t take a lot of time to master, Nordic walking is an ideal companion for those undergoing treatment with the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon. As your weight goes down, you’ll immediately benefit with greater stamina.
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.