By John Dent at
Happy New Year to you all from Walxfreshhealth
Every New Year arrives with good intentions about self -improvement and being fitter and happier. We tend to put massive pressure on ourselves to do more, be more and face all the challenges ahead with renewed vigour and energy. I don’t know about you but the last two years has really tested my innate positivity and there have been times when you need social contact and a boost from those around you. I’ve been lucky that I have great family and friends to get me through and, just as important, has been my extended Nordic Walking/WALX family and the wider WALX community.
A great group of friends
I’m constantly reminded of how lucky we are at the walxfreshhealth club to have such a fantastic group of walx enthusiasts. Even when the numbers started to dwindle during lockdown we kept going (online and face to face). One thing I’ve learned over my 20+ years as a health and rehab coach is that having those we can share the ups and downs of life with is as important as the other important building blocks of health such as diet and exercise.
Finding your tribe:
A review in the Journal Heart in 2016 found the following:
“To lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, you need to get out and meet people. Loneliness and social isolation are linked to an increase in both conditions”
Where do I start?
At walxfreshhealth we recognise that you are all different, have different goals, fitness levels and health considerations. It is as important to find an instructor who you like and can work with first and foremost. That way you are automatically going to be more receptive to any positive message imparted to you. The most important criteria for me as your Nordic Walking instructor is that you have fun. The association is then positive and you’ll want to keep coming back time and time again.
I understand that you might have a niggling back or knee injury, might be worried about your blood sugar if you have diabetes or your ability to coordinate your movements if you have a neurological issue. You may of course be completely new to exercise and be concerned about not holding anyone back or keeping up. These are all issues that I have encountered and successfully helped my walkers cope with to find the right level for them.
Why I love Nordic Walking?
I’ve been lucky to know Martin Christie as a friend and professional for over 15 years. Martin introduced me to Nordic Walking on Hampstead Heath after recommending it to me for my clients and spine rehab patients. Within an hour I was hooked and could see and feel the value. I’ve seen exercise fads come and go and was at first quite sceptical of the claims that were being made about calorie expenditure and more muscles being used than walking without poles. So I tested the hypothesis with heart rate monitors and from my own history of lower back pain after retiring from professional sport. The results were almost immediate!
By using the poles with correct technique (with a great deal of patience from Martin) I could feel my tummy muscles engage more and noticed greater mobility in my mid back too. It had been quite a few years since I’d played Rugby and my body, albeit strong, still suffered from aches every time I ran more than five miles. To cut a long story short I have used Nordic walking ever since as a way of keeping up my aerobic fitness, managing my weight and making the most of the time that I have available to exercise. This is why I am so evangelical about Nordic Walking technique and it definitely is an exercise method that you have to experience in order to fully understand and appreciate.
Why you can burn more calories
The image (figure1) shows some of the larger important muscles that you use during Nordic Walking apart from your core muscles.
When you use more muscles you automatically use more calories during your exercise session.
The large wing shaped muscles you often see in swimmers is illustrated in the diagram. These muscles are commonly referred to as Lats. Your lats form a bridge between your lower back and your upper arm. When they are contracted there is a mechanical link via the connective tissue (fascia) in your lower back with the opposite buttock (Glutes). This forms a mechanical cross bridge and can help support the lower back and pelvis as you walk. Every stride you take in your Nordic Walking class whilst pushing down through the poles allows you to engage this important Lat and Glute connection.
A safe solution for 2022
In a Nordic Walking exercise environment it is easy to keep your distance (normally a pole’s distance) from other walkers. And, because we are exercising in the great outdoors the risk of contracting Covid-19 is significantly reduced. At Walxfreshhealth we employ strict measures to keep you safe. So let 2022 be the year that you:
Happy New Year for 2022