Nordic walking is the quickest way to get a beach body: Here’s why


Nordic walking is one of the most effective ways to improve fitness. In fact, the Finnish pastime burns 46% more calories than regular walking and works 90% of your body's muscles.

Nordic walking is one of the most effective ways to improve fitness. In fact, the Finnish pastime burns 46% more calories than regular walking and works 90% of your body's muscles. The concept of Nordic walking (originally called Finnish sauvakävely) has been around for a while. For decades, it was the exercise of choice of skiers who needed to stay fit and vibrant in off-seasons. However, it wasn't until the late 1980's when the sport caught the attention of regular fitness enthusiasts, and it wasn't until 1997 until the Finnish company Exel produced the now well-known, purpose-built poles. In fact, it was the talented people in Exel's marketing department that coined the term "Nordic Walking." Now, the sport has an international fan base, with many enthusiasts even scheduling walking time into city breaks. In Helsinki, for example, tourists can sign up to Nordic walking tours, which is a great way to stay fit while taking in some city views. But, like a tortured artist, Nordic walking is popular yet widely misunderstood.


A fitness routine for every generation


Thanks to the low impact nature of the sport, Nordic walking has become popular with active seniors looking to improve balance and joint mobility, which according to the Finnish news station, YLE, has caused many to assume that the effective workout is merely a gentle hobby for the elderly. That's not to say that people over a certain age can't enjoy rigorous exercise: Elderly bodybuilders such as Charles Eugster have firmly dispelled that myth. But branding Nordic Walking as a retiree's exertion is like branding the Ford Mustang as a sensible family car.


Nordic walking is a total body workout


The misunderstood workout affects every part of the body. And I mean every part. A great way to improve stamina, tone muscles and to maintain a healthy weight, Nordic walking helps develops core strength, while activating muscles on the shoulders arms and back. On top of that, walking uphill with poles can increase heart rate by 30 beats per minute, making the exercise more effective for cardiovascular health and weight loss than jogging.


An exercise that benefits everyone


For many, the thought of going to the gym after years of a sedentary existence can seem intimidating, and with most gyms packed full of in-shape, body-beautiful go-getters, it's easy to see why. However, Nordic walking has a calmer and gentler vibe, which is why a growing number of health professionals are advising their sedentary clients to take up the activity. In fact, a study looking at practical ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes concluded that the positive effects of Nordic walking were enough to recommend the sport as a method of disease prevention.


Some more health benefits of Nordic walking


• A great way to socialise

• Keeps you fit when you have an injury
• Improves posture
• Improves the quality of sleep

How to get into Nordic walking


With payoffs as big as these, it's easy to see why more and more people are picking up some poles and joining in the fun. So, what should a beginner consider when starting this new Finnish hobby?


1. Buy a pair of Nordic walking poles. A simple pair of Nordic walking poles won't set you back too much. You can pick up a decent pair for as little as 40€.


2. Join a club. Apps like Meetup and Sportyapp are great for finding your nearest club. And if you live in Helsinki, you can even join the Helsinki Nordic Walk Facebook group, which has over 1000 members. You can also walk alone or with a partner.


3. Choose the best walking method for you.


4. Remember that Nordic walking is simply an enhancement of regular walking, just with longer strides than usual. After you master the walking technique, remember to hold the poles loosely in each hand, then swing them forward with each extended arm as you stride. The poles should always point diagonally backwards after your foot touches the ground, and they should be pulled towards your body in one smooth movement to give your muscles the best workout as you walk. So, there you have it. Whether you desire to look like an extra on Baywatch or simply trying to get yourself out of a sedentary slump, try Nordic walking.


The results may amaze you.

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