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What Is Nordic Walking — And Why Should Seniors Try It?

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There’s nothing like a nice walk for a bit of exercise and fresh air — until you start feeling it in your back, knees, or hips. The good news is that Nordic walking can help alleviate some of these pain points.

So what exactly is Nordic walking?

Nordic walking is just like regular walking, except with special poles and slight modifications. You’ll want to lean slightly forward, take longer strides, and keep a light grip on your poles. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to walk faster and further. Nordic exercise can boost your workouts — and your health.

The Benefits of Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is one of the best exercises for seniors since using poles while walking reduces the pressure on the back, hips, and knees. Unlike regular walking, which only works muscles in the lower body, Nordic walking targets 90% of all muscles, including the triceps, shoulders, and neck for a full-body workout.

In fact, the American Nordic Walking Association reports a wide range of potential benefits that come with this all-body version of walking, including the following: 

  • Can improve insulin resistance and reduce blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce back, shoulder, and neck pain.
  • Supports stress management and good mental health.
  • Develops upright body posture.
  • Burns up to 46% more calories than regular walking.
  • Increases heart and cardiovascular training.

Nordic walking allows you to take your workout up a notch by going faster and further while working the whole body. For seniors with joint issues, this exercise can help achieve your overall health and fitness goals. It can also allow you to be more active while spending time outdoors. 

What You Need to Get Started

Nordic walking poles — that’s it. 

These specially designed poles are shorter than ordinary ski poles and come with straps to allow for a more relaxed grip. The “feet” of the poles have a forward angle and can be covered with a rubber “bootie” to use when walking on sidewalks or asphalt paths. 

Nordic walking poles range in price from $20 to more than $200, but $50 is generally considered a good starting point for quality gear. Made of either aluminum or carbon fiber, poles come in both adjustable and one-piece models. 

The appeal of adjustable poles is that they are collapsible, which makes it easy to transport them in a backpack or suitcase. (Here’s a nice pair to check out by Montem.) 

Because they are not adjustable, one-piece walking poles — like these by industry pioneer Excel — must be selected based on your height. Check out this helpful guide by the Nordic Academy for more detailed information on how to select the right poles for your height. 

Your other decision is whether to go with aluminum or carbon fiber poles. Aluminum poles are heavier and more rigid, which means less give and more vibration felt in the arms and upper body. Carbon fiber poles are usually more expensive than aluminum and are lighter and more flexible, which makes them more durable and also more comfortable for some walkers.

A Brief History of Nordic Walking

Scandinavian hikers have long used regular ski poles to help with balance when navigating uneven terrain or when walking downhill.

In 1996, a man named Tuomo Jantunen realized that walking with poles was a concept that could be embraced more widely. As the director of the Finnish Central Association for Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities, and With the help of a Finnish company called Excel, he began to work on developing the perfect walking poles.

After working on more than two dozen prototypes, Jantunen and his team released the first Nordic walking poles in 1997 — and the practice has been gaining speed ever since.

Redefining Wellness Through Springpoint Choice

Like Nordic walking, Springpoint Choice can also help you achieve your overall health and wellness goals! Our membership program makes senior care planning easy, affordable, and secure. Offered by Springpoint, the Mid-Atlantic’s leading provider of senior care and housing services, Springpoint Choice is an alternative to long-term care insurance or a complement to an existing policy. 

Springpoint Choice allows members to safeguard their finances by planning for the care they may need in the future. That means peace of mind for you — and for your loved ones.

 Contact us to learn more about Springpoint Choice or any of our senior living communities