The melody is catchy. The lyrics are in German and English — and sometimes a few English words (Nordic Walking is “cool and easy”) embedded into German. The walkers are slim, energetic and attractive. And the scenery of what looks like Bavaria is lovely.
A Facebook friend from Spain posted the clipping below of Queen Beatrix of Holland, age 75, with Nordic Walking poles. The newspaper refers to her as “princess,” but she has been Queen Regnant since her mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated in 1980. She in turn is abdicating soon in favor of her son. I don’t know much more about the royal walk with poles, but I am happy that Nordic Walking has such a high-toned practitioner in Europe. I can’t even credit the publication, because I don’t know what it is.
Beginners needing tips on how to start Nordic Walking and experienced Nordic Walkers wanting a quick refresher ought to check out a YouTube video feature Marko Kanteneva, a Nordic Walking pioneer who continues to promote Original Nordic Walking to differentiate it (however so slightly) from other brands. The vidoe shows him Nordic Walking at regular speed and in slow motion, includes illustrations of muscles engaged during Nordic Walking and shows uphill and downhill technique as well as walking on the flat.
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?
Lance Amstrong’s foundation’s website & its curious Nordic Walking article
I admire Lance Armstrong, not just for winning seven consecutive Tours de France but for doing so as a cancer survivor and since then, for supporting individuals and organizations doing battle with cancer and working to find a cure. I was gratified to find an article about Nordic Walking on the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Livestrong website, but again, puzzled at the content. Called “How to Measure Nordic Walking Sticks” by Marie Mulrooney (who might or might not be the Marie Mulroomey from Anchorage), it sounds very British. “Sticks” instead of poles, centimeters instead of inches and so on.
The article is fine as far as it goes, and as I wrote, I’m happy that so important an organization paid any heed at all to Nordic Walking, but it never addresses what one does with sticks/poles once the measuring is complete, and it is illustrated by a surprising photo from Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images.
The man in front is using poles, but the five people of various sizes who are following him are pole-free. What’s that all about?
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.
Australia’s Mike Gates, nicknamed “Walking Wizard” for his ultra-endurance Nordic Walks is reportedly planning to break his own Nordic Walking 36-hour nonstop record on August 5-7, when he is aiming for 48 hours of nonstop walking with poles. He set his previous record in 2006 on a street course and is planning to throw in some variety with 80% of the course on sandy beaches, bush routes and pathways through coastal villages. In addition to raising Nordic Walking’s profile, Gates will be raising money for Kids In Need,” (K.I.N), which assists seriously ill and disabled children with rehabilitation equipment, ongoing medical expenses for specialised treatment, therapeutic and medical equipment to enhance the quality of the child’s life. Norman Trubik, one of several co-moderators for the Nordic Walking eCommunity, reports, “”On his previous marathons, Mike used conventional Poleabout strapped poles. This time he will be using strapless Exerstrider poles. Mike will also be wearing Vibram Five Fingers (KSO Treks). These two changes which will give some good feedback to the E-Community.”
Map My Run App Praised
In a comment on the Nordic Walking eCommunity of which he is another of the co-moderators, Virginia-based Marek Zalewski, also Owner/Editor of Nordic Walking US, wrote, “if you already have a smart phone and no wrist-mounted GPS device, a great and free way is to download the free Map My Run app (runs on Android phones and iPhones). It will track your walk, draw it on the map and allow you to save it. You will get the distance, the average speed, etc.” Map My Run is also an eCommunity created for runners and joggers but also applicable for Nordic Walkers.
Nordic Walking in Your Own Backyard
Discovering a nearby route ideal for Nordic Walking is always a something of a thrill. Twin Cities instructor Rhea Kontos of Nordic Walk This Way recently posted an item on the Great Lakes Nordic Walkers blog extolling the benefits of 60-acre Caponi Art Park in Eagen, Minnesota. She exclaimed, “Suburbia, wooded, maintained, two abreast nature trails, and Free!” She knows her way around Nordic Walking venues in her area, but her delight at finding a new one is palpable.
DIY Poles: A Discussion
The Instructables is a site for do-it-yourself devotees. A discussion of Nordic Walking poles is interesting for equipment junkies and arguably for anyone interested in NW’s image. And for the record, I’m not advocating making your own when there are good, reasonably priced and sturdy walking poles on the market.
Nordic Walking on YouTube
A new (or new to me) Nordic Walking video on YouTube — in Italian:
Nordic Walking in Eastbourne
Nordic Walking Fitness in Eastbourne, UK, has an info-packed website and blog with links to Nordic Walking videos, and also offers monthly demos so that newbies can get a taste of Nordic Walking.
If Nordic Walking has been slower to take hold that enthusiasts might have hoped, Nordic Walking media are even sketchier. I had hoped for stronger sales for my Nordic Walking book than there have been, and response to dedicated Nordic Walking media in the U.K. have also been disappointing. While the Nordic Walking eCommunity established by David Downer continues to be more or less active, the Nordic Walking Magazine that he launched and that has been edited by eCommunity co-moderator Malcolm Jarvis is ending after a short run.
Here is the message Jarvis sent out (and I’m sure many of you have already read it:
“Hi everyone, it’s Malcolm, co-moderator
“Yesterday David [Downer] and I had a long conversation about the future viability of the periodical ‘Nordic Walking Magazine.’ Some early soundings that I have made suggest that interest in the magazine will be low, notwithstanding its nominal cost. This is also consistent with the actual take up of the subscription site Nordic Walking Magazine.com. Furthermore, apart from a few very notable and welcome exceptions we have had no feedback whatsoever on previous issues.
With this in mind I am unwilling to spend further extensive amounts of time in developing the publication. As David is not personally in a position to be able to do so singly, we have decided that the most appropriate action is to shelve the project indefinitely. I already have a number of articles ready for publication and I plan to include these on David’s weblog Nordic Walking News.’
‘I plan to remain as a moderator of this forum (so you are not free of me yet!) and I hope to post the occasional article on Nordic Walking News, in addition to those referred to.
“I find this a bit of a sad outcome but on a personal level the perceived nominal interest in MWMag is outweighed by a need to devote more time to other long cherished interests. Retirement does not last forever.
“Walk well, Malcolm, co-moderator”
Bottom line, as I see it, is that if you are interested in Nordic Walking, be willing to make a modest investment (if required) to read what’s out there and provide some feedback..
When I looked at the “Babes on the Beach” inage fof the cyber-cover for issue No. 2 of Nordic Walking Magazine, I mused, just for a moment, that if my poles and I could go on hours-long Nordic Walks for days, perhaps my bod’ could look like that again. But reality clicked in right away. I’m just five feet when I stand up straight and never looked like that, even in the flower of my youth. My legs were never that long, and all the walking in the world couldn’t lengthen them!
A quick read of the articles did, however, provide something of a Ponce de Leon epiphany. Exerstrider‘s Tom Rutlin wrote a feature about one Bob Saunders who, in 1993, “was a picture of bad health” — overweight, pre-diabetic and existing on a wretched diet. Many people in similar situations decide to “do something,” and Saunders did “something” remarkable. He and his Exerstrider poles walked from Seaside Heights, New Jersey, to San Clemente, California, where his son lived. After training for a year and Exerstriding 2,800 miles (4506 km) in just 78 days, he had firmed up from a pudgy 285 pounds to a lean and muscular 150 pounds. His son didn’t recognize him. Saunders, now 72, Nordic Walks daily.
Also in this issue: “Sauvakävely,” a translation of Marko Kantaneva’s 1997 groundbreaking article in Finnish introducing the Nordic Walking concept to Europe. Editor Malcolm Jarvis wrote, “This is the article‟s first appearance in the English language and it is important to remember that when originally published in 1997 there was no such name as ‘Nordic Walking,’ nor specially designed poles with straps, nor any instructors, nor YouTube videos or Nordic Walking magazines and forums. And you couldn‟t look it up on Google, because that didn’t exist yet either.”
Jarvis wrote two other features, one on exercise and mental well-being and another introducing the new Nordic Walking World Federation that I wrote about here recently. Ian Holloway contributed a piece on a Nordic Walking itinerary along Shepherd’s Way in North Umbria, near the Scottish border that sounds fantastic. And the issue that opened with a couple of beach babes (Kantaneva’s pictures, by the way) and wraps up with a 94-year-old identified only as Sophie. She’s equipped with a pair of poles and a big smile. She’s a role model for us all — and she’s a mere 22 years older than Bob Saunders.
Return of Nordic Walking eCommunity and new focus on an eMagazine
Several months ago, I (and other Nordic Walking enthusiasts) received a series of E-mails from David Downer, a UK Nordic Walking instructor, book author, founder of a Nordic Walking eCommunity and wearer of who-knows how many other hats. He wrote that he was switching his eCommunity from yahoogroups.com to something else that sounded interesting but that I didn’t quite get. He launched a weekly Nordic Walking eNewsletter and set up a Nordic Walking magazine too. The first edition came out in January, initially free to what he called “founding members” and then anticipated as paid-subscriptions cyber-publication. Whew!
It was all quite complicated, because every communication seemed to require a different sign-up protocol, and sign-in and passwords were required to access some info. With personal good intentions of my own, I think I signed up for everything, but maybe I didn’t — or maybe I tried to sign up for the same components more than once in response to several solicitations. In any case, I found myself increasingly out of the international Nordic Walking loop — not David’s doing but my own time constraints. I had intended to write a blog post about it, but some intuition must have caused me suspect that these intertwined concepts wouldn’t have legs, so I didn’t post anything.
Now, David is returning to a simpler communications model, and I for one am grateful — and I am posting what I consider to be the good news. The eCommunity is back and the magazine is slated to come out four (or is it six?) times a year. If you want an explanation of the changes, click here. David and his editor, Malcolm Jarvis, between them managed to put out 25 issues of the weekly — no mean feat. I know this, because I have struggled to find newsworthy content for this comparatively modest blog with the luxury of no self-imposed weekly deadline. I can write about what I want, when I want about topics that I expect will be interesting.
I am on board with this back-to-the-future decision and look foward to reading what they write.