By Gill Stewart at
Exercise should never be a chore (as every nordic walker knows very well!) but as well as being fun, it’s important to include strength, balance and flexibility into your weekly activity…. especially if you want to hold back the years. In fact the advice from the Chief Medical Officer for the UK is quite clear:-
Nordic walking is far better than simply walking as it does work those upper body muscles but real strength work (known as resistance or weight training) is vital as we age because if we don’t do it, our muscles literally waste away.
Many people focus purely on Cardiovascular exercise only and that can lead to complications later in life as that alone does not guard against falls and the risk of broken bones in later life. Having a healthy heart is great news but it does not necessarily mean you will always have the strength to get up out of a chair or the balance to avoid falls and it is these skills (known as motor skills) that are vital to total good health. In fact there have been cases of elderly joggers who although seemingly very fit and active, have suffered greatly after falls due to poor upper body strength and posture.
As we age, our muscles will literally waste away year on year unless we take steps to work them in a way that encourages them to re build themselves and the good news is….it’s NEVER too late to start.
So the secret is simple – be generally active AND take care to add a little resistance work, balance drills and flexibility into your weekly regime.
So how do you start?
Many NWUK Instructors do offer specific classes that incorporate these elements see wellbeing classes for instance but it’s also really easy to do it yourself, either at home or while out on your walks.
In this issue we are going to look at ways to bring resistance into your regime and next time we will help you to bring in balance and flexibility.
TO BUILD (or maintain) STRENGTH
RESISTANCE exercise also known as weight training (don’t worry, we are not talking about pumping iron!) is vital for maintaining body strength and a few simple additions to your weekly programme is all it takes. To maintain or gain strength you need to work the muscle a little more against some form of resistance, hence the name. Here are our favourite ways of adding this vital element to your exercise regime either whilst out on a Nordic walk or when indoors.
Nordic Walking – Why not try using the Nordic Walking gym which consists of two exercise bands designed to strap easily to your poles. We tend to stop twice during an hour long walk to work on key muscles which will have warmed up nicely and be ready for some added work!
WORKOUT IDEA! – Try not to stop for too long on any walk especially in winter to avoid cooling down too much. Group exercises together so you work upper and lower body before moving on. For basic exercises see charts that come with the bands.
Walking – If you fancy adding resistance to an ordinary walk why not try the weight balls it’s amazing how something so simple can dramatically up the ante and provide quick results by using more muscles and adding that crucial resistance. Or pinch this neat idea which was made for runners – the runners gym is a great little belt on bag that contains resiistance bands that can be used for a variety of exercises outdoors. It even comes with two little water bottles.
WORKOUT IDEA! – walk normally simply carrying the balls and then gradually swing them further back and slightly across your chest when going forwards – this will bring in the upper body a bit.
If you don’t have any Nordic walking poles you can simply use a gymstick at home to repeat some of the exercises. Or why not take a look at the innovative chair gym which will enable you to literally set up a mini gym that can be packed away in seconds! All you need a simple chair to be able to perform a range of full body resistance exercises.
You will be amazed at how your muscles will respond and it’s never too late to add strength and tone up.
The great thing is that many of the products outlined in this feature also come with exercise charts and CDs but if you can, ask your local Instructor, you will get a prescribed programme and valuable advice.