Thanks to the American Nordic Walking Association for the heads-up on a Mayo Clinic newsletter for (again) pointing out the benefits of Nordic Walking. “Could walking poles help me get more out of my daily walk” was the question in the Q&A section about healthy lifestyles. Dr. Edward Laskowski endorsed poles and enumerated the key benefits.
I can’t think of a better name for a Nordic Walker than Diane Walkowiak. This Omaha sports columnist wrote “Making Strides with Nordic Walking,” in which she summarizes the stalled state of Nordic Walking in this country. She bought poles, watched videos and stumbled around while trying to feel comfortable and get real benefit – and overcoming the DIY frustration. She managed, in a DIA fashion, to achieve a semblance of skill and enjoy some satisfying results. I am assuming that she is healthy, somewhat (or very) athletic and has no trepidation about trying something new. She managed. Most people, I daresay, would have given up.
If only the basics of Nordic Walking instruction were available in Omaha, and if classes were easy to find there (or anywhere) and elsewhere in this country. The American Nordic Walking “community,” if there is such a thing, remains a house divided — with no single and much-needed resource for finding poles, instruction and walking companions for those who would enjoy the companionable aspects. An Internet search for “Nordic Walking, Omaha” brings up 13 results, including two Tae Kwan DO schools, a local soccer club, the Absolute Serenity Day Spa, a dentist and a couple of national sites that purportedly sell poles. The most promising result was Tiger Coaching & Personal Training, a gym with no mention at all of Nordic Walking. Omaha is not unlike most of America when it comes to access to instruction or support. Sadly.
The mind and Nordic Walking.
Recreational Sports and Fitness at Montana State University in Bozeman hosts a series of free workshops on Wednesday, September 17 that focus on Nordic walking and individuals’ mental lifestyle presented by Robert Sweetgall, who has walked across America seven times and is often called “The Real Forrest Gump.” His motivational Creative Walking program focuses on health and wellness issues.
The first workshop, “Nordic Walking 101,” from 11 a.m. to 12 noon in Shroyer Gym is a hands-on session focusing on basic Nordic walking techniques and tips. “Nordic Walking 201” follows from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in Shroyer Gym. Approximately one-third of the session is a seminar, one-third focuses on advanced learning techniques and one-third is a workout. Individuals who attended the Nordic Walking 101 session or who attended a similar Nordic walking session in 2013, are eligible to attend.
“The Brain Workout Workshop” from 1:15 to 2 p.m. addresses a mental lifestyle that improves and maintains brain function. It incorporates mental and physical activities, nutrition and strategies for controlling blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It is to be “The Brain Workout Workshop” will be repeated fom 6:30-8:30 p.m. in SUB Ballroom B.
While fhe workshops are free, RSVPs are required. To register, call 406-994-5000 or visit 120 Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center. FoMoInfo: Michele Cusack, 406-994-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Wednesday in April is the day to walk — or walk more
The American Heart Association promotes the first Wednesday in April as National Walking Day. The goal is to get as many people as possible to commit to walking for at least 30 minutes a day. Many of us already put in more time on foot and with poles, but that that is the minimum that reduces health risks, according to the AHA.
Some communities, senior centers, rec districts and even companies organize National Walking Day activities for Wednesday, April 3 this year. The AHA offers a National Walking Day Toolkit for individuals and organizations. The US Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking solicits comments in the Federal Register on what the Call to Action should be to promote walking for health, wellness and fitness.
Yet another study has yet another quality-of-life benefit — or so it appears. Reporter Gretchen Reynolds’s piece in the New York Times, “How Exercise May Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay,” wrote that “a cautiously encouraging new study from The Archives of Neurology suggests that for some people, a daily walk or jog could alter the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or change the course of the disease if it begins.” The recommended minimum was the usual recommendation of 30 minutes, at least five times a week. Add poles, and you get an additional upper-body workout. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
Sunday October 9:
site at the Greenfield Community Center prior to training:
methods and techniques, and how Exerstrider poles enhance any person’s fitness goals. See prerequisites at www.nordicwalknow.com.
Health benefits of walking with poles discussed in fianancial daily
“Getting a Leg (and Pole) Up on Burning Calories” is a piece by Laura Johannes in the Wall Strteet Journal’s “Aches & Claims” column,, which might be online only or also in the print edition. She thumbnailed a definition of Nordic Walking for those unfamiliar with it, writing:
“Nordic walkers stride along, planting a pole on the ground as the opposite foot comes down and then swinging the pole behind them. While similar to hiking poles used for balance and stability on difficult trails, walking poles are mainly for use on easy trails or neighborhood streets, say the companies that sell the poles.”
Johannes shifted back and forth between Nordic Walking and hiking with poles. She interviewed Exerstrider’s Tom Rutlin, who also alerted people in the NW community about the piece. (Thanks, Tom.) She cited 80-year-old Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute whose 22-person study, authored by Timothy S. Church, nearly a decade ago is the foundation of Nordic Walking’s claim calorie-burning bonus. She also touched on the debates as to the whether walking with poles on flat ground helps protect the knees.
It is hardly the big feature that advocates and enthusiasts of fitness walking with poles might have wished for from the WSJ, but even modest coverage in such a prestigious publication can only help the Nordic Walking cause.
Boulder County leads the way with programs for beginners & beyond
Is Nordic Walking finally getting a toehold in Colorado? I certainly hope so. I was delighted when I saw a front page story on May 23 in the Denver Post’s Fitness section called “Take Your Workout to the Great Outdoors.” There was a photo of Annette Tannander-Bank leading a Nordic Walking class — not walking in that particular shot but doing lunges with poles for stability as part of the warm-up, strengthening and cool-down exercises that instructors favor, and that people like me don’t bother with. I’m more of a grab-and-go walker. I grab my poles and I go.
The Post piece was about outdoor workouts in general, and reporter Sheba K. Wheeler listed 20 in the metro area. Of those, several were walking programs including some specificially Nordic Walking. One was a one-day intro last Saturday, but the following are still available.
- Intermediate Nordic Walking, Annette leads two classes on Mondays at 12:00 noon at Boulder’s Scott Carpenter Park and on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. at North Boulder Park. Walk-in fee is $10 or a Rallysport Health & Fitness Club punch card., plus $5 for optional pole rentals. 303-449-4800.
- Nordic Walking, introductory program offered the first and third Saturdays of every month. Meet at Fleet Feet Sports, 2624 Broadway (at Alpine), Boulder. $5 walk-in fee; participants may borrow poles from the store. 303-939-8000.
- Nordic Walking, Tuesdays, 6-7 p.m. from June 14-July 5, and Thursdays, 8-9 a.m., June 16-July 7. No drop-ins. $42 for residents and $48 for non-residents, including use of poles. Broomfield Recreation Center, Broomfield County Commons, 13200 Sheridan Boulevard, Broomfield.
Paley’s Pole Presentations at REI
On Wednesday, June 9, Jayah Faye Paley, creator of two DVDs on walking with poles, will be at Boulder’s REI giving two free presentations — one on each DVD. From 3:45-5:15 p.m., the topic is balance, mobility and functional walking showing people with with mobility issues can use poles to improve gait, posture, endurance, function and strength. That class is full, indicating how much of a need there is for it. From 6:30-8:00 p.m., shedemonstrates how to expand hiking horizons and improve health with poles.
Paley is based in Pacifica, California, where she runs Adventure Buddies, which promotes use of the outdoors (including Nordic Walking) and creating a network of people who enjoy outdoor recreation for health and fitness. She is also a personal trainer and mobility coach , using poles to help people stay as active as they can as long as they can under a program called Poles for Mobility.
ANWA in Colorado
As part of its nationwide schedule, the American Nordic Walking Association presents three levels of training and certification to the Denver area in mid-July. The four-hour Nordic Walking Guide Workshop ($149) for people who want to lead primarily groups of social Nordic Walkers, July 16; eight-hour Basic Instructor Training & Certification Seminar ($236 for registration before June 16, $355 after, $284 for ANWA members); July 16-17, 12-hour Advanced Instructor Training & Certification Seminar for those holding Basic certification ($288 for registration before June 16, $45 after, $360 for ANWA members). Denver area location to be announced.
Nordic Walker notes that clicking poles are in sync with the clicking of new mechanical heart valve
Under the subject line, “The Long Road Back,” Iain Leiper, a Nordic Walking stalwart from the UK, recently told other NW enthusiasts about an unexpected medical adventure (and permitted me to share his story here):
“I’ve probably never been so appreciative of Nordic Walking and the range and scope of its ability to bring an individual back to fitness as I am right now. Seven days ago I underwent heart surgery having being diagnosed with what is known as a bicuspid aortic valve (apparently a birth defect which has only manifested itself in the last few months).
“For those who know me this was a severe body blow — it had never affected me during my time as a Marine Commando nor in my time thereafter when I undertook various types of Ironman events such as 70 Wild Miles. However what I did know for sure was that at 49 years of age suddenly any kind of exertion was out of the question. This has been the status quo for nearly 6 frustrating months.
“As I start my journey back to fitness however I know Nordic Walking is ideally suited for such a purpose – providing physical support by way of the poles and the option to undertake fairly gentle exertion at first without any particular strain on any part of my physique, with the option to gradually up the exertion level considerably as fitness increases.
“How I have longed during these 6 months to grab my poles and get out there and now at long long lasty the moment is upon me ! However the tick tick ticck of my poles has a new competitor to vouch with for the breaking of silence…the click click click of my new mechanical aortic valve !!!
“Walk Well, Iain”
Tom Rutlin, who developed Exerstrider poles and created the Exerstride Method of fitness walking with poles, responded with encouragement and this caution:
“I know that your indomitable spirit along with some regular, moderate, good use, Nordic walking will have you back living life to the fullest soon. As far as gradually upping the exertion level considerably, I’ll just suggest that life should never be looked at as being a race. More intensity is not necessarily better for your health and longevity. Life is not a race, it’s an endurance event, and my goal is to finish as far back in the pack as possible – while enjoying optimal functional health and every stride along the way! Wishing you a short road back, Tom”
Nordic Walking coach introduces “Kitchen Coach” to new fitness activity
The other evening at a writers’ gathering , I spent time chatting with Mary Collette Rogers. We started talking about food, and ended up talking about Nordic Walking, which she recently took up. Mary knows a lot about healthy eating and healthy cooking, and shares that knowledge in person, via cooking classes and online. She calls herself a “Kitchen Coach” because she is an authority on kitchen organzation, the author of Take Control of Your Kitchen, teacher and speaker who guides people into gaining good health through good (and good for you) food. In short, her health awareness is stellar.
A Nordic Conversion
If you live anywhere close to Claire Walter’s circle of influence, you’ve heard a lot about Nordic Walking. To me, it didn’t look like much more than walking with two sticks, so I wondered why all the fuss.
Unfortunately, in making this quick dismissal I forgot one of the more painful rules I’ve learned over the years: Judgment should always be preceded by experience. So now, having dismissed Nordic Walking without ever trying it, I have to eat my words. “Walking with two sticks” is actually a terrific activity.
Maybe it was the promise of decreased knee pain that finally made me swallow my pride and join the monthly walk sponsored by local running store, Fleet Feet. Who knew that walking could be such an absorbing, full-body workout? Under the guidance of INWA National Coach Annette Tannander Bank, I learned how the simple addition of poles turns walking into a serious fitness activity, with pre-walk stretches, five or six different strides and forms, uphill and down hill strategies, speed variations and cool down stretches.
The specialized poles used for Nordic Walking force the arms to serve as additional “legs.” So they get a great workout (especially those triceps), along with the entire upper body. As if that’s not enough, pushing those poles Nordic style creates good posture–automatically. I think that was my favorite part: feeling tall and looking up and around as I walked.
Lest I forget, the poles do indeed make walking easier on the knees. Along with everything else, that’s a big reason for shifting my regular morning walk to a Nordic Walk–if I can just remember my poles! Here’s a tip: I’ve started hanging poles with jacket until they become an habitual companion.
So here’s to Claire Walter’s persistence and Nordic Walking–a twist that adds a whole new–and fun–dimension to an ordinary activity.
Mary Collette Rogers is a healthy eating coach who loves just about any form of physical activity that can be done without aggravating or adding to the physical injuries she has already accumulated. Visit her at EveryDayGoodEating.com