The far-reach South Beach Diet “Daily Dish,” a free E-letter, published the following question:
“I just started exercising indoors this winter. Walking aside, are there other good exercises for beginners that I can do outside now that spring is here?— Isabel J., Seattle, WA”
The answer suggested “activities like swimming, biking, hiking, and even gardening are great alternatives — and they’re ideal for any fitness level,” plus playing Frisbee with the dog, doubles tennis or impromptu game of tag for family fun.
The answer concluded with the advice, “In addition to outdoor cardio activities, remember to strengthen and stretch your body when indoors. Core exercises (moves that target your abdomen, lower back, pelvis, and hips) are especially good, since the core muscles are vital to helping you maintain good posture, balance, and stability. Core training also reduces the risk of injury, which is the key to being able to enjoy physical activity throughout your life.”
That was good as far as it went, but I wanted to shout into my computer screen: Nordic Walking not only makes walking more interesting, but it is an outdoor activity that is effective in every way suggested cardio endurance, core-strengthening, posture, balance, stability and reduction of the risk of injury.
We have all read charts and checklists and questionnaires in magazines. Keenfit, a Canadian pole maker, has a questionnaire on its website that underscores all the benefits of Nordic Walking with simple yes/no answers. Of course, your answers will lead to the conclusion that Nordic Walking is indeed right for you. So if you’re wavering on whether to begin, click on the questionnaire — and get ready to Nordic Walk.
The ‘Fitness’ section of today’s Denver Post covered the theme of losing weight and keeping it off. The front page feature, called “Secrets of the Formerly Fat,” discussed the findings of James O. Hill, director of the University of Colorado Health Science Center’s Center for Human Nutrition and the creator of a national registry of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained the weight loss for a year of more. In a survey of the successful, Hill discovered the five common practices of those successful in keeping those lost pounds off:
- They eat breakfast.
- They make friends with the scale.
- They keep moving.
- They stick to their eating plan.
- The stay away from the tube (i.e., television).
It’s that third item that intrigues me. Hill told the reporter, “Walking is huge.” He noted that a survey revealed that people are are successful in weight maintenance are mostly middle-aged Caucasian women who average 60 minutes a day of physical activity, including 28 percent whose activity is “mostly walking” and 49 percent who combine walking with cycling, aerobics or something else.
Keep in mind that Hill and the participants in his registry are talking about plain old pole-less walking. Add the fitness dividend of Nordic Walking, and we can infer the probability of even greater success.
For a short summary of Nordic Walking’s benefits and basics, see a reprint of a New York Times Fashion & Style section piece called “Skiing a Snowless Trail” at http://nordicwalking.no/. Nothing in-depth here, but a neat capsule of why we love it, as enshrined in “the newspaper of record.”