Category Archives: Health Benefits

Nordic Walking Part of New Brunswick Wellness Series

Hat’s off to the New Brunswick village of New Maryland for including Nordic Walking in its Wellness Series, according to The Daily Gleaner, which reported that “The village started the four-part series in late October to encourage participants to try physical activities to stay healthy. This final session, called Try Something New, will introduce Nordic walking techniques to citizens, said recreation co-ordinator Natalie Reid.”

The paper’s report continued, “If you can’t participate in the Tuesday evening session, the City of Fredericton will offer the Nordic walking session Nov. 10 from 10-11:30 a.m. at Willie O’Ree Place on Cliffe Street. Oromocto will host a Nordic walking session Nov. 10 from 1:30-3 p.m. at Hazen Park Centre in the town.”

New Maryland, a parish in York County, New Brunswick, with roughly 4,300 residents manages to put on a wellness program at the local elementary school,to  introduce Nordic Walking and to offer two back-up sessions. New Maryland does this in  some sort of partnership with a couple of nearby hamlets and the city of Fredericton to the north. And did I mention that the series is free? Or that New Maryland boasts several miles of marked walking/recreation trails accessible directly from the village center?

No mention of which technique is being introduced or which poles are being used in the Nordic Walking portion of this program. Just as it should be.

Nordic Walking for Arthritis Pain Relief

Hip pain? Nordic Walking might help — a lot

Not a week goes by without another new revelation to parties interested in a chronic or temporary health concern, wellness issue or weight loss strategie that Nordic Walking can help achieve whatever goal. The most recent I’ve seen is a piece in a site devoted to arthritis relief. Called “Arthritis in Your Hips? Nordic Walking May Help You Get Rid of Your Hip Pain,” the article advises those with painful arthtitic hips:

“Walking helps get all of the muscles around your hip joint strong and balanced, each with the other.Maybe you can’t walk so easily anymore. You might be able to do Nordic Walking or you simply might not. You will have to really consider your body and how you feel, and you might want to check with your doctor.

“You can watch a video about Nordic Walking at the website “Live Healthy By Walking dot com”. When you watch the video, you might think, ‘They are walking way too fast. I could never do that.’ Well, maybe you can’t do it right now, but if you start walking gradually at the pace you can manage comfortably, your hips will start to get happier and stronger. Using the walking poles might be a helpful way for you to begin to walk.”

Nordic Walking for Rehab

No, not rehab for substance abuse but physical issues

In the early 21st century, rehab can connote yet another celebrity checking into the Betty Ford Clinic or another group injured overcoming or adapting to injuries sustained in Iraq or Afghanistan — or just regular, non-famous people to who “something” has happened back home. Steve Crossley, who perhaps is associated with the Nordic Academy in Australia, wrote a blog post in which he discussed Nordic Walking’s suitability in rehabbing for the following recuperation and chronic conditions:

  • Replacement knee joints
  • Replacement hip joints
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal injuries
  • Lower back muscular pain
  • Congenital hip disorder
  • Ankle surgery
  • Achilles tendon damage
  • Broken leg
  • Limited mobility and balance problems, along with the associated lack of confidence

This is nothing new to stalwarts in the Nordic Walking community, especially instructors and trainers, but it never hurts to be reminded of Nordic Walking’s versatility. Speaking of versatility and Australia, I wr

2010 Nordic Walking Expo Schedule

Full day of events set for tomorrow’s mega-event in Bloomington, Minnesota

Event: Nordic Walking Expo
Place: Hyland Park
Date: Saturday, June 12
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


9:00 Class – “So you think you can walk?” presented by Malin Svensson (president, Nordic Walking North America and author of Nordic Walking, published by Human Kinetics).  Enhancement of regular walking without poles

9:30 Lecture – “Injury Prevention for Nordic Walkers” presented by Suzanne Nottingham (founder and director of Nordic Walk Now and author of Nordic Walking for Total Fitness, Human Kinetics). Nordic walking skills and movements for the safest, most effective techniques to stay safe and injury-free.

10-10:30 Class – Group walk around Hyland; can run longer if group wishes, led by three top Nordic Walking educators, Tom Rutlin (Exerstrider), Suzanne Nottingham (Nordic Walk Now) and Malin Svensson (NWNA).

11:30 Lecture “That Girl” 2010: New City, New Job and New Life, or How I Started My Own Nordic Walking Bisiness, Lindy Spiezer Smith (formerly LEKI USA marketing director). Lindy left LEKI in Buffalo and moved to Florida for family reasons, then turnied her passion for elder health into a business  that make a profit within a year.

12:00 Class – “K9 Nordic Walking,” Kristine Zellmer and her Alaskan Huskie, Caird (Skijor Now). Canine  Nordic walking, an exciting new sport in the Nordic Walker wears a padded waist belt and the dog gets robust exercise from pulling instead of just walking on a leash). Harnesses are available to those who  bring their dogs.

12:30 Lecture – “Active Aging Through Nordic Walking.” “Nordic Walking Queen” Linda Lemke (Great Lakes Nordic Walkers). Nordic Walking to help people stay active, stay mobile, improve balance and stability (less chance of a fall), support the lower joints and helps promote healthy bones. “It’s fun, it’s social and it’s outdoors,” Lemke reminds people.

1:00 Class – “Intro to Exerstride Method Nordic Walking,” Tom Rutlin (Exerstrider). Pioneer in developing special poles for fitness walking and the technique that goes with it introduces the simple basics of this original “Nordic American” technique that he introduced in the U.S. in 1988. .

1:30 Lecture – “Burn More Calories with Less Effort,” Malin Svensson (NWNA). Seven simple secrets on how to “Burn More Calories with Less Effort.” You will walk away with effective tips on how to get into your best shape ever and how to overcome the most common obstacles to exercising through Nordic Walking.

2:00 Class -“Boot Camp 1,” Suzanne Nottingham (NWN), Join Nottingham for a fun and original outdoor cross-training excursion from her recently released book, Nordic Walking for Total Fitness. This class is intended as a mixed-intensity movement experience through safe and progressive training methods for those with some Nordic Walking experience.

2:30 Lecture)- “Play it Safe, Nordic Walking Jeopardy,” Bonnie Dau (Revel Sports). Nordic walking is naturally a fun and safe activity, but an ounce of prevention can make it safer yet.  Bonnie counts on audience participation to play the game of “Jeopardy,” highlighting ways to stay while Nordic Walking. Revel Sports will be giving out nominal prizes to the winners.

3:00 Class – “Nordic Walking Adventure Circuit,” Gary Johnson (NWNA vice president). Adding various exercises to a Nordic Walk with the equipment all around. The interval class incorporates upper and lower body exercises to get a great whole body workout

3:30 Lecture – “The Future of Nordic Walking… Impacting Public Health on a Global Scale,” Tom Rutlin (Exerstrider). A growing number of people share a vision of impacting public health on a global scale through fitness walking with poles. Rutlin and others see Nordic Walking’s potential for the greatest impact on global public health of any exercise trend since Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s book Aerobics launched the modern exercise movement more than four decades ago.

Also, every 20 minutes (9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Join an instructor try different types of poles.

Be there!

Portland is a WOW for Walkers

Wonders of Walking promotes fitness walking in Oregon’s walker-friendly City of Roses

I just cyber-stumbled upon Wonders of Walking, a Portland, Oregon, organization that promotes fitness walking in general. According to the website, “Whether you are a competitive, fitness or social walker, Wonders of Walking events provide something for everyone. No matter what your motivation, Wonders of Walking offers you the opportunity to achieve and accomplish.”

Founded by Judy Heller, whose personality specialty is racewalking, the organization embraces all aspects of walking. She has won all sorts of awards for her efforts to promote health and fitness through walking. The Walk Club in conjunction with Oregon’s three REI stores organizes weekly group walks. Anyone, anywhere can access (and be inspired by) WOW’s cyber newsletter online. There is also a page with links to walking organizations and resources.
And there are classes and training programs too, including walking with poles. WOW’s next Nordic Walking class is mid-day Sunday, June 20 at Laurelhurst Park (SE Laurelhurst and SE Ankeny). The times appear to change from month to month. The class costs $35 plus $5 for the use of Nordic Walking poles. The Exerstrider logo appears with information on this class, so it’s a safe guess that these are the poles of choice and the instruction follows the Exerstride Method.

And WOW runs and supports training programs for various events, notably the Portland Marathon, the first marathon in the US to welcome participants with poles, and Portland’s inaugural half-marathon on the auspicious date of October 10, 2010. The half is sold out, but reportedly some slots remain through local charities; click here for details.

WOW’s next walk training session begins on June 13 and on October 10, but clearly, anyone entering Portland’s full or half will miss that last WOW training session. WOW’s 16-week program is not Nordic Walking-specific, but with just twice-monthly meetings and personal attention, it might well be adaptable. For any questions on walk training or or anything else WOW-related, phone 503-282-1677, Email or us the online form on WOW’s website.

On the Move with Marlin and Shirley

California couple racks up miles and stays fit Nordic Walking around town

Marlin and Shirley Heckman first discovered Nordic Walking in the same country that I did — Switzerland — but several years before I came across it there. profiled the 73-year-old retired university librarian in a story called “Take a Walk on the Mild Side with Marlin Heckman.” He and his wife Shirley bought a pair of Nordic Walking poles in Switzerland and initially split the pair, each using one pole. After they returned to the US, they sprang for a second pair and began Nordic Walking in earnest, taking an American Nordic Walking Association course.

The writer of the un-bylined online article wrote:

“In a little more than four years, 73-year-old Marlin Heckman estimates he’s walked about 7,000 miles. His isn’t some wild, age-addled claim. Heckman was a University of La Verne librarian for 30 years, so he sources this stuff.

“More impressive, Heckman did’t pile up all his miles trekking across the United States or Europe, although he’s certainly well traveled. No, most of his mileage has been racked up here in the tiny burg of La Verne, Calif.

“You see, Heckman walks everywhere … to Vons, to Stater Brothers, to the post office, to the University from his residence at Hillcrest. While his car usually stays put, he does bring something with him beside his beautiful wife Shirley and his trusty pedometer, and that’s his pair of Nordic walking poles.”

The article continues with basic information on Nordic Walking — the calorie burn bonus, the fitness component, the gentleness to the joints and everything else that Nordic Walking enthusiasts know and value. Marlin Heckman and Shirley plan to teach a Nordic Walking class through the City of La Verne in the fall. Let’s see. Fall is six months off, give or take. I wonder how many miles Marlin will have logged by then.

Nordic Walking for Wellness and Prevention

Exercise helps ward off chronic conditions. It’s not rocket science

A recent CNN health report took a closer look at health care reform and noted that $7 billion is going into preventive care. By that, the US system means no co-pays and full coverage for physical exams for early detection and, presumably, medical providers’ counsel to exercise more and eat better. European health plans go farther.

As Mervyn S. Foster, a Nordic Walking instructor from Cambridge, England (not Massachusetts), pointed out in “Nordic Walking for Health and Fitness,” an article in Wising Up!, an online business-to-business magazine, “In Germany national health insurance pays for Nordic walking classes from accredited trainers because of the health benefits. Like other forms of exercise, it’s worth taking a class or two to begin with, because you won’t get the full benefits unless you have the right technique.”

The CNN report also noted that prevention is already part of some some state health plans and many corporate wellness programs, and many US Nordic Walking instructors teach or lead groups for companies. Companies that other gyms, treadmills, yoga and other classes and facilities have been shows to reduce health-insurance premiums and sick day absences, so it makes sense for companies to provide them. It would make sense for the new federal health plan to cover them too, but that is still wishful thinking. Hopefully, when health care coverage is a fact and the current ugly objections have died down, the American model will expand in scope.

Foster, who gave me permission to quote from his article (and I will post other excerpts in the future), teaches two weekly beginners’ sessions and also “improver” classes under the Nordic Walking Cambs banner in the Cambridgeshire area. The small photo is also his, used with permission.

LEKI’s Loss is Florida’s Gain

American pole pioneer teaches Nordic Walking in Fort Myers

Lindy Smith has done as much to promote Nordic Walking in the US as anyone I know. As Lindy Speizer, she worked for Buffalo-based LEKI and took the Nordic Walking message top-down from the pole company to retailers with enthusiasm and a series of innovative promotions, Now based in Florida, she is still enthusiastically promoting Nordic Walking but from the bottom up, teaching Nordic Walking classes through the Fort Myers Community Center and also to private and corporate clients.

The News-Press, which covers southwest Florida, appears quite taken with Smith’s advocacy and classes. Last week, the paper ran a feature called “Nordic Workout Takes Pressure Off Back, Legs” that included a local who had “given up to inactivity” following hip-replacement surgery last year, and a woman who had both knees replaced — and who both regained their balance, confidence and mobility after Lindy introduced them to to Nordic Walking. Their stories are inspiring for anyone with similar issues, and the paper’s photo makes the web page is worth clicking on.

Smith’s next introductory workshops take place April 18,  May 2 and May 8 at the North Fort Myers Community Center, 2021 North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers, behind the public library. Info: 239-533-7440. The cost is $23 per person, including use of poles.

Pink-Trimmed Exerstrider Poles for a Good Cause

Pole pioneer Tom Rutlin honors assistant, friend, long-time survivor with a pole of her own

Tom Rutlin, who introduced both poles designed for fitness walking (he called them Exerstrider poles) and a technique for using them (Exerstride Method or Exerstriding) in 1988, before the phrase Nordic Walking came out of Europe, is a deliberate man who does not impulsively launch new products or change his existing ones. So it was a great tribute to a treasured colleague and friend when he added some pink trim and an important message to his OS2 poles (see the end of this post) and introduced an initiative to help raise funds for efforts to educate people about the health benefits of exercise. He has permitted me to use his words and pictures to tell a poignant story that does not have a happy ending — but hopefully, will help others in the future.

The Suey Starcznski Prevention Project by Tom Rutlin (used with permission)

1959-2009 (Breast Cancer Survivor 1997 – 2009)

“Suey” was first diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 1997. By the time she came to work with me she was a “survivor” of 6 years. When she interviewed in 2003, I asked her what she did for exercise. She replied, “I don’t exercise…hate to exercise”. Despite that fact, I knew immediately that she was exactly the right person for the job. I told her that in order to do her job here she would have to have first-hand experience with the Exerstrider poles so I would pay her for 30 minutes per day of Exerstriding.

She fell in love with Exerstriding immediately, and a few weeks later she asked me how long I intended to pay her to exercise. I hadn’t really thought about it, and told her so. Her reply, “I never thought I’d say this, but I love this exercise.” She insisted that I stop paying her to exercise, and became the most enthusiastic proponent of the exercise I could ever have hoped for. Those of you who had the great honor and pleasure of knowing Suey through Exerstrider understood exactly why I hired her despite her honest admission that she hated exercise that first day I met her.

Sadly, in 2007 she was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, which had also spread to her bones and liver. Against all odds, and with the same glowing smile and positive attitude she brought to everything else she did, she refused to lose hope, yet in December of 2009 we lost the shining light that her unique spirit shed on everyone that she touched during her too-short life.

Suey told me that one of the reasons she loved her job so much was that almost daily she heard from people about the healing and preventative health powers of their newly discovered love for regular physical activity. Although her newfound love of exercise did not save her, she believed that it extended her life, and it has been clearly demonstrated that the incidence of many forms of cancer as well as many other modern health epidemics can be greatly reduced by regular moderate physical activity. For years, the thing that seemed to give her the greatest satisfaction was hearing from people for whom Exerstriding had helped overcome obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and many other serious diseases.

Near the end, Suey said that she hoped and believed that others would be spared the kind of suffering she had to endure as a result of our efforts having helped them discover the joy of physical activity. She said, “If only more people knew that exercise could be so enjoyable and that it could actually help do so much to prevent cancer and many other diseases that cause so much suffering, it could make such an important impact on so many more people.”

That’s why I created the Suey Starczynski Prevention Project, the “double P” pink ribbon and pink Exerstrider poles to honor her memory and her indomitable spirit that lives on. $5 for every pair of the pink poles sold will be donated to programs to promote education on the preventative health power of regular moderate physical exercise. Suey believed, as I do, that prevention is the most powerful “cure” for many diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, osteoporosis and many other diseases which have become epidemics of sedentary living.

Tom adds: The new pink poles are not on the website yet (they will be soon), but they are available now. They are priced the same as the OS2 (and are identical except for the color and graphics). If you or someone you know is interested in helping kick off the efforts of the SSPP, and in being the first in your area with a pair of these spiffy pink poles, just call his new assistant Jan at 888-285-7392 to place your order.

Health Care/Insurance Reform Should Include Prevention & Wellness

This open letter from the president of the American College of Sports Medicine reaffirms what Nordic Walking enthusiasts already know, but it is worth remembering for ourselves, reminding your Senators and passing on to family, friends and colleagues:

As the Senate debates how to bring health insurance to all Americans, let’s focus on keeping people healthy in the first place. Science continues to report evidence that exercise is medicine, shown to help prevent chronic diseases, from diabetes and depression to osteoporosis and cancer.

Some in Congress (such as members of the Fitness Caucus) get the message: By encouraging healthy lifestyles, we can save many Americans the heartbreak of debilitating illness. Individuals enjoy better quality of lives; employers gain from greater productivity; we all benefit from reduced health care costs.

Research has shown that exercise boosts the immune system, helping people shorten illness or avoid it altogether. Physicians who understand the power of prevention through healthy lifestyles may say “Eat well, walk more, and you may not have to call me in the morning.” It’s common sense, it’s based on science, and increasingly, it’s doctor’s orders.

The action steps are clear, for Congress and for all of us. House and Senate members must support programs to help Americans follow healthy lifestyles. Each of us should eat a balanced diet, avoid tobacco and stay physically active. It’s a simple prescription with a very big payoff.

James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM
American College of Sports Medicine