Mind Your Body Episode 32 with Bernd Zimmermann.
Gold medal-winning cross-country skiers have solid upper and lower bodies and are in great cardiovascular condition. The trendy sport of Nordic walking—said to be one of the world’s fastest-growing sports with good reason—is recognized as a time-efficient, low-stress and total body workout. All you need is proper walking shoes and proper poles, and a door to the welcoming outside world. Almost anyone can do this any time, anywhere and in any climate, as today’s video expert, Bernd Zimmermann, demonstrates to me. He’s the founder of the American Nordic Walking Association and he wants you to learn Nordic walking.
Muscle up your workout: According to Zimmermann and ANWA, “plain walking” with a fast pace and good stride only uses approximately 70 percent of the body’s muscle mass at any given time. Hold some Nordic walking poles in your hands with the proper technique and you’ll utilize up to 90 percent of your body’s muscle while increasing your heart rate significantly. Good for you when you learn Nordic walking.
Take first steps: Start with carrying poles in “2-wheel drive” position. Then grip using your upper body, so you’re in higher “4-wheel drive.” ANWA suggests each step begins with your heel on the ground, rolling forward to ball and toe, then pushing off to go forward. Keep hands in constant “grip-n-go” position, holding the pole every time it contacts the ground. Let it go as it is drawn back behind the body, finishing with an open hand. Allow this natural flow, so torso and hips work in a “counter-swinging motion” from the lower body. Advanced techniques include jogging, running, jumping strides, hiking/trekking and inline skating.
Learn Nordic walking because it:
- Raises heart rate 5-17 beats per minute higher. Normal walking is 130 beats per minute, while Nordic is 147.
- Increases oxygen consumption and burns approximately 400 calories per hour, versus 280 calories per hour for normal walking.
- Releases pain and muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, increasing lateral mobility of neck and spine.
- Involves 90 percent of all muscles in its total body workout…actively engages forearm extensor and flexor muscles, rear part of the shoulder muscles, the large pectoral and broad back muscles…strengthens upper body and creates resistance to build better bone density.
- Reduces load on knees and other joints, and on “heel strike force,” thus reducing possibility of joint problems.
What you need: Start with a good-fitting pair of walking shoes. Don’t be tempted to use your skiing or hiking poles, for you need light-weight, rubber-tipped Nordic walking poles—you can change out the tips for different terrain. Don’t skimp on price for yourself, since this is already a recession-proof sport requiring minimal investment.
Where to learn: Doing an activity correctly adds to its benefits. ANWA holds workshops across the country, or you can purchase the organization’s excellent instructional DVD. This sport comes naturally. Chances are you’ll pick it up easily in no time, so “walk on” to better health.
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