Since completing my Nordic Walking training course in Bromsgrove last July, I have noticed various benefits – but not just the obvious ones of becoming fitter, stronger, losing weight and reshaping the body’s contours. These physical effects can be quite quick to appear and the rhythmic movement of using Nordic poles is almost hypnotic with the aim of propelling the body forwards at each step, taking some of the strain from knees and ankles. Efforts to improve technique, with guidance from the instructor, enable the upper body, arms and shoulders come more into play giving a fuller body workout compared to normal walking. For those who wish, there are options to include extra muscle or interval work as well as a fit for life course to further increase physical strength and stamina. For those less able or returning to fitness, there are wellbeing walks. All of these activities are not restricted to younger people as evidenced by regular attendance of participants of more mature years. There are walks and courses at weekends and summer evenings to accommodate those who work weekdays. Something for everyone.
In addition to these invaluable physical benefits, the effects of Nordic Walking are visible on a more psychological level, promoting enjoyment of life in the great outdoors, in spite of our variable weather. The physical effort involved promotes a sense of achievement, with apparently less strain on the lower joints than normal walking without poles. Once training is completed, and a Freedom Passport obtained, participants can book onto group walks in the local countryside or even further afield at times, where the social aspect of the activity comes to the fore. A chance to chat with someone new. Refreshment or meal stops during or at the end of walks provide opportunities to form new friendships. Some walks and activities require team effort or themed walks provide opportunities to laugh together and take photos of our antics. A great sense of fun and quite a bit of banter! I have seen and felt change in the mental wellbeing of some participants and myself, where there had previously been depression, anxiety or stress. Interaction with other people, sharing life stories, experiences or laughter in the sunshine or the rain and mud can be a real tonic to the soul. For me personally, it has enabled me to deal with and recover more quickly from stressful situations and encouraged me to advance my fitness to another level. I hope that I will enjoy all its benefits for many more years to come.
I would encourage anyone to give Nordic Walking a try whether just a Taster session or the full Learn to Nordic Walk course. Well worth the effort and it may be the ideal route to obtain fitness along with enjoyment of the countryside and the company of like-minded souls. Enjoy!