In a recent interview with Dr. Taunton, former chief medical officer of the 2010 Olympics talked about how exercise can boost our immune system during COVID-19. He said, “In terms of exercise, that social distance is two meters, the best activities are aerobic so that could be walking, pole (Nordic) walking, cycling, running, golf, cross country skiing, single kayaker. One of the outdoor activities that offer many benefits is Nordic walking.
Mandy Shintani, occupational therapist and co-owner Urban Poling and developer of ACTIVATOR poles for older adults and rehab says, “As it is an activity for all ages, it is also an accessible activity that people can do with their children and grandchildren. There are over 260 independent studies listed on PubMed.com on the benefits of Nordic walking.”
To help weigh in the many benefits of Nordic walking, Barb Gormley, the owner of CustomFit Personal Training in Toronto, director of education for Urban Poling Inc., and author of “The Urban Poling Ultimate Guide to Nordic Walking,” a how-to book for beginner, intermediate and advanced Nordic walkers, says, “Since gyms, pools and community centres have closed, I’ve noticed a real surge of interest in Nordic walking. My group classes are all currently postponed, but I’m teaching several private classes each week. It’s fantastic to see so many people out walking with poles these days, but for every person who powers by with proper Nordic walking poles and technique there are just as many trudging along using their poles in a hiking fashion. Too many people still think that hiking poles and Nordic walking poles are interchangeable and that their walking techniques are the same. Hiking poles and hiking technique is all about making walking easier…there is no specific technique. Nordic walking is about maximizing walking effort.”
Gormley lists the many benefits of Nordic Walking:
The biggest benefit of Nordic walking poles is that they make standard walking more challenging by involving more muscles. Nordic walking is all about swinging the arms like long pendulums and then pushing back on the handles to propel yourself forward. When you do it right, it tightens up your core muscles, arms and back, something that regular walking definitely doesn’t offer.
Because it works so many muscles at the same time, it’s an ideal for this time of COVID-19 when we’re all staying home and venturing out for activity close to home.
Another bonus is that the poles provide stability. So if you have a wonky knee or sore hip or just poor balance, the poles give you confidence to get outside and be active. You can walk slowly or quickly which changes the cardio intensity.
Research shows that regular moderate outdoor exercise, like Nordic walking, can help boost your immune system and also improve your mood.
A pair of swinging poles also create a bit of a no-go zone around your body, which makes it easier to keep a healthy distance from others. You need to stay back from the person in front of you to avoid stepping on the tips of their poles.
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Author: Christine Blanchette is a freelance writer for Optimyz Magazine print and digital issues and sometimes helps with editing.