Category Archives: Dogs

Nordic Walking on Snow

Eagle Trail is snow-covered and smooth

P1050988 During the quadrennial Winter Olympics, I spend a lot of time “tele-veging” because the sports of snow and ice are my favorites. My husband and I took a break today, going for a walk on the Eagle Trail in northeast Boulder. The trail system crosses grazing land, some of it now managed by Boulder Mountain Parks & Open Space and some in private hands. The gentle, flat trails provide fine big-sky views.

The trail was snow-covered, and while it was soft in late-morning, I did slip the traction paws onto my LEKI Nordic Walking poles. They are like studded snow tires, suitable for ice sidewalks but good for soft snow as well. We saw people walking, people walking with dogs, people running, people running with dogs and one cross-country skiers. I was the only Nordic Walker.

Haystack Mountain seen across white meadows and through the trees.
Haystack Mountain seen across white meadows and through the trees.

 

We encounter a number of people, but I was the only one with Nordic Walking poles.
We encounter a number of people, but I was the only one with Nordic Walking poles.
Where the trail branches with the Eagle Trail to the left and the Sage Trail to the right, we chose Sage in honor of American slopestyle boarder Sage Kotsenburg, who just became the first American gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics
Where the trail branches with the Eagle Trail to the left and the Sage Trail to the right, we chose Sage in honor of American slopestyle boarder Sage Kotsenburg, who just became the first American gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics.

 

Big Snow = Good Local Snowshoeing

Fabulous close-to-home snowhsoeing follows major Front Range

It starting snowing sometime on Thursday evening. It kept snowing all day Friday. And all Friday night. And much of Saturday. By the time it stopped, 22 1/2 inches had accumulated on our back deck — a local record. Someplace identified only as “four miles north of Blackhawk” reportedly snared four feet of snow. That’s would be an impressive single-storm accumulation even for the Sierra Nevada.

Our back deck. That snow-capped thing is our outdoor dining table.

Continue reading Big Snow = Good Local Snowshoeing

Doggone Clever Leash System

In order for their canine companions to join them and yet have free hands for their poles, Nordic Walkers often like to use a leash system that attaches to the waist. In addition to being a leash-and-collar combination, Sporn Products’ new Multi-Leash (right), offers the option of using it as a belt leash, tied around the waist. It comes in red, blue or black nylon with reflective stitching (should you wish to Nordic Walk with your dog after dark), is adjustable from 4 to 7 feet, and is offered in 3/8-, 5/8- and 1-inch widths. Suggested retail price is $20.95-$21.95.

Still that doesn’t solve the problem of being pulled by an eager dog. Sporn has a solution for that as well. The Non-Pulling Mesh Harness (above, far right), a continuation of the firm’s training harnesses, fits under the dog’s “armpits” at a natural pressure point. When the dog pulls, the harness tightens and causes discomfort but not pain, so the dog stops pulling. The color choice is the same as for the leash. The harness comes in small, medium and large to fit dogs with neck sizes from 9 to 33 inches. Suggested retail prices are $21.95-$23.95

Why is Nordic Walking More Effective & What About Dogs?

A very recent visitor to this blog added the following comment to one of my posts on a very different topic. I think it merits spotlighting. She wrote:

“I love walking, for health and for my peace of mind. And, living in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Pocono Mountains, it’s wonderful in my own backyard. When I want to use it to lose weight, I concentrate on hills and moving faster.What I don’t really understand is why adding a couple of poles in my hands will make it that much more healthy or vigorous. Besides, how do you hold a dog’s leash while Nordic Walking?”

I’m not a physiologist, and I haven’t yet run my conclusions by one, but here’s what I think the bonus provided is from “adding a couple of poles.” When you are simply walking, it is mostly the muscles of your legs and lower torso that are engaged in the activity. Swinging your arms as you stride doesn’t work the muscles of the arms, shoulders and upper torso with anywhere near comparable intensity.

In order to provide an upper-body/arm workout, some people use handweights while walking or running. However, many experts believe that the possible risks are greater the benefits. Carrying hand weights doesn’t provide the strengthening and toning benefits that lifting weights does, but it does stress the joints and ligaments, and can even be problematic for people with blood-pressure issues. These experts suggest a walking program for cardio, weight-loss and general conditioning, and a weight program for building strength and maintaining or increasing bone health.

Proper Nordic Walking technique, by contrast, not only helps protect the joints, but also burns more calories than simple walking because the upper body is actively engaged in the movements. The oft-quoted 2000 study by the Cooper Institute found that Nordic Walking burns up to 46 percent more calories than plain old walking. The operative words are “up to.” That doesn’t mean that every Nordic Walker will burn that many more calories on every Nordic Walk, but it certainly is encouraging.

I don’t have a dog, so this is not first-hand experience. It seems that it is best to somehow attach a long (but not too long) leash to your waist, perhaps with a carabiner onto a belt or waist pack. There may be some kind of special device that I don’t know about but will eventually try to research. If you let your dog sniff and do its business while you are warming up, he or she will probably be ready to join you on a vigorous walk with less distraction. As with any leashed dog, some like to lead, while some like to follow (or have been trained to heel). If you have a huskie or a greyhound, you might really have to crank to keep up!