Nordic Walking For Better Blood Pressure and Health

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On February 2, 2020

I started doing this form off walking last week and even convinced a friend to join me. I have to say the Nordic walking has been a wonderful experience that I have dedicated one hour to daily. I highly recommend this type of walking.

Nordic walking is a total body version of walking that can be enjoyed both by non-athletes as a health-promoting physical activity, and by athletes as a sport. The activity is performed with specially designed walking poles similar to ski poles.

Nordic Walking vs Regular Walking

Compared to regular walking, Nordic walking (also called pole walking) involves applying force to the poles with each stride. Nordic walkers use more of their entire body (with greater intensity) and receive fitness building stimulation not present in normal walking for the chest, latissimus dorsi muscle, triceps, biceps, shoulder, abdominals, spinal and other core muscles that may result in significant increases in heart rate at a given pace. Nordic walking has been estimated as producing up to a 46% increase in energy consumption, compared to walking without poles.

Nordic Walking Poles

Unlike trekking or hiking poles, which have loose straps that go around your wrists, Nordic poles have a special glove-like system attached to each pole. “You slide your hand into it and use your palm rather than your fingers to transmit power to the poles and move yourself forward,” Dr. Baggish explains.

You’ll find poles in sporting goods stores and online. The poles are available in lightweight aluminum or carbon material; with pointed tips for trails, or rubber tips for sidewalks; and fixed or adjustable heights. Prices range from about $20 to $200 for a pair of poles. (Hint: A set of poles would make a nice holiday present.)

Research Finding

According to the findings of the research, conducted by the group scientists from various universities, both Nordic walking and conventional walking are beneficial for older adults. However, Nordic walking provides additional benefits in muscular strength compared to conventional walking, making it suitable for improving aerobic capacity and muscular strength as well as other components of functional fitness in a short period of time.

The key points stated by the study authors are: Nordic walking, conventional walking, and resistance training are beneficial for older adults.

  • Nordic walking and conventional walking both improve cardio-respiratory fitness while resistance training does not.
  • Nordic walking provides additional benefits in upper-body muscular strength compared to conventional walking.
  • Nordic walking is an effective and efficient mode of exercise to improve overall fitness in older adults.

The cadences of the arms, legs and body are, rhythmically speaking, similar to those used in normal, vigorous, walking. The range of arm movement regulates the length of the stride. Restricted arm movements will mean a natural restricted pelvic motion and stride length. The longer the pole thrust, the longer the stride and more powerful the swing of the pelvis and upper torso.

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How To Get Started

Dr. Baggish says most people are candidates for Nordic walking, even if they have balance problems. In fact, “if you have balance issues you’re the best candidate for this, because of the increased stability from the poles,” he says. “But you should still talk to your doctor first, especially if you have heart disease.”

Once you have the green light and a set of poles, you’ll need a walking route. You can walk on level surfaces or on varied terrain — anything from sidewalks to grassy fields or trails. Safe neighborhoods and parks are ideal.

Some tips for success:
  • Dress comfortably. Wear clothing that allows lots of arm swinging.
  • Stay hydrated. “Drink water in advance if you’ll be walking less than an hour. Otherwise, drink along your route,” Dr. Baggish suggests.
  • Do a 10-minute warm-up and a 10-minute cool-down. Nordic walking is fun, but it’s definitely a workout.

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