Amp up your walks with a set of poles. Taking a lead from cross-country skiing, Nordic walking is about walking with Nordic walking poles. Not only has it been proven to burn more calories, it targets more muscles than regular walking, all while making your workout feel easier.
I will admit that walking down your suburban street with your poles may attract a head turn or two from neighbors. But more and more fitness walkers are finding the poles to be worth the attention!
My personal experience began a few years ago after a lesson from one of the experts at my local sporting goods store. One lesson was enough to motivate me to buy my own pair of poles, and that was the beginning of my trek.
Build upper body, burn more calories, improve posture
The benefits are numerous. Using them not only builds upper-body endurance but also increases your calorie burn between 20 to 40 percent over regular walking, according to a recent study from the Cooper Institute. The poles help sculpt the triceps, work the chest and back, and reduce stress to your joints, specifically less stress on your knees.
A little practice will help you coordinate the arms and legs. Once you find your rhythm, your regular fitness walk becomes a super-charged power walk. My favorite use has been on trails and hills — but suburban streets work also! Your posture is definitely important, and you can’t help but stand up tall and engage your core while using the poles.
4 tips on how to get started
You don’t need a lesson to begin. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to get started:
- Choose the right size poles. Adjust them to fit your height and grip them lightly. Most poles come with hand straps, so you feel secure you won’t drop them as you walk.
- Walk normally to begin and just let the poles rest in your hands as you walk.
- Begin to use the poles and place the right pole down as your left foot is forward and vice versa. Just push down and backwards as you walk through the stride.
- If at first it seems awkward, practice for 15 minutes. You’ll probably get the rhythm and pick up your speed.
Get outside and grab your poles! If you are really motivated to try a race, check out the Portland Marathon — one of the only U.S. marathons that is sanctioned to allow Nordic walkers. Portland is a beautiful place to visit in the fall and a fun getaway with some friends. Of course, it maybe too late to prepare for the race on Oct. 4, 2009, but put 2010 on your calendar! Set your sights big.
Just Give it Two Weeks! Check out my new book 2-Week Total Body Turnaround.