Benefits of a walking exercise are clearly seen.

Benefits of a walking exercise are clearly seen here.

A common misconception that many have is that a good walking exercise program really does not do much.  In other words, they feel that you must “hurt” that is, “no pain, no gain” in order to get any real benefit from exercising.  Not true!

So what is walking exercise and how can we get the most out of it?  Consider some of my earlier posts about walking and the many, many benefits that come…seemingly overnight.

The Nordic Walking Pole

Promoting the Nordic walking pole is one thing, but in order to see it’s quick results, we need to know how to use these tools.  In my previous blog, we covered some of the basics to start with.  We concluded with the thought that once we learn a bad “habit” in our routine, it can be a challenge to rid ourselves of it.

Let’s consider what these bad “habits” are while we are learning to use Nordic walking poles and how to avoid them.

Errors In Our Walking Technique

Walking all of our life, we may have in mind that we “already know how to walk” and don’t need to be shown how.  If that is your thinking, then stop reading now.  On the other hand, if you recognize that all of us can learn from someone else, then keep on reading.

Using Nordic poles can be an adventure, especially when we do so with friends who walk with us.  However, caution needs to be exercised whenever we start a new type of exercise program.  With Nordic walking poles, it takes about six to eight weeks to really learn-the-ropes.

Common mistakes that are made at first are overextending our steps, that is, taking too large of a step.  Doing too much at first can cause strains to joints, lower back and groin.  Often times once someone has hurt themselves, more than likely, they’ll not continue any type exercise program.

Though we do want a firm grip on the handle of our walking pole, we need to learn the technique of how and when…to totally release the handles.   Too much grip (I call it the Gorilla Grip) can strain our wrists, lower back, shoulders and elbows.

When walking, stand erect.  Keep your chin up.  Many have the habit of leaning forward, their head leading the way.  This is counterproductive to trying to build back muscles as we walk so good posture comes naturally when we are not in our exercise walking routine.

Naturally we want to bend our elbows as we walk.  In the beginning, during the slower learning walk, that is acceptable.  On the other hand, as we progress, we want to walk faster.   Bending our elbows too much can cause us to lose any potential benefits.  At this point (faster walks) we need to increase the length of our poles.

The adjustable type Nordic walking pole is one of the best.

Be sure that you have a natural arm swing as you walk, arms swinging in opposition to each leg.

Keep your upper body straight, chin up, (don’t look down but look to the horizon).  Often times the bad habit of slumped shoulders show up.  Keep shoulders up while allowing your upper torso to slightly rotate from side to side in a twisting motion.

Note also that if your poles are too long for you, then more than likely you’ll be over flexing or over extending your wrists during your walks.  Keep in mind that as you plant each pole tip, the swing of your arm should be from the shoulder, not the elbow.

If you note that after your walks you little finger is a bit overworked, you have what is called “painter’s grip” as if your pole were a paintbrush or perhaps a pencil.  Try to relax your hands while still gripping the pole.

Make sure your thumb is wrapped around your pole.  We are pole walking, not hitchhiking.

Proper grips

Proper grips

The release of the pole handle should occur when your hand reaches the hip area.  Often times new ones open their hands in the front of themselves with fingers extending outward.   Always be aware that your hands should hold firmly to the pole except at the release point…at your hip.

Walk slowly as you begin this program.  Many will overdo it by too large or open steps with too much walking speed.  Concentrate on your technique at first, then when you feel the fluid motion of each movement, without having to think about it, you have achieved your goal.

This will still take about six to eight weeks though.

Each step should be heel first.  Then roll your foot to your toe for a stepping point.

Injuries can occur when you rush.  The Tips of our poles should be firmly planted.  From that point, we can take our next step.

Now that we’ve mastered the Nordic walking exercise, how can we build strength, cardiovascular, and build power within ourselves?

Our goal is to be fit and enjoy ourselves while out of doors.

Written by:  Tom McDaniel Be sure to click SHARE button

Photos by: relievejointinflamation,masterfile


Walking Stick

What  Is  A Walking Stick ? … Often the above image comes to mind.

A walking stick or better known as a walking pole, can be used for health, protection, balance, safety, resting, or just plain “looking good” to everyone that sees you!  So many interesting and unique benefits come from this simple “invention” of the use of a stick, or pole.

To answer the question of “What is a walking stick”, can be just a wee bit tricky.  As noted above, it’s uses are quite diverse.  However, most people choose a good walking stick,  a.k.a. walking pole, for health reasons.

Benefits Of Using A Walking Pole

A brief summary of some benefits of this simple device are:

Anyone can use it.  Regardless of your age or fitness, you can benefit for it’s usage.

Knotted muscles show up in the upper back, neck and even in many shoulder areas often caused from stress at home or at work.

When using the walking pole the correct way (and yes, there is a right and wrong way to use a properly constructed walking pole)  it reduces the stress on the upper body.

The proper use of walking sticks/poles will actually improve your upper body mobility.  More muscle will be used and therefore give a person a more erect posture.  Slumping or round shoulders will be a thing of the past.

Mentally, many people do not like the word “exercise” or “workout” because it comes across as difficult.  On the other hand, when using walking poles, it is perceived by most, as a more moderate exercise, even though you are using 90% of your entire body muscles!

Balance is a challenge for many that are getting up in years.  Walking while using poles, can help to maintain balance.  Especially is this true when walking on uneven surfaces such as an off road hiking trail.

Aches and pains in our lower extremities can be greatly reduced.  Hips, knees, and ankles all take a tremendous amount of stress if we’ve not had a regular routine of walking.  Walking poles can relieve much of it by giving us the much appreciated support.

Weight Loss

Want to trim down?  Just by using walking sticks/poles, which uses more upper body movements, can burn some 40 to 48% more calories than just walking without them.

Building up your wind, or cardiovascular, is another side benefit of walking with poles.

And, once more, remember that while using walking sticks/poles, we are using about 90% of all our body muscles.  When we compare it to the 40% or less muscles that are used when not using walking poles,  we begin to feel more fit almost “overnight.”

Benefits of using poles are quickly seen

Benefits of using poles are quickly seen and felt in ourselves.

What About Surgery?

As a person ages, many times our joints begins to break down.  Often times requiring a hip, knee or ankle replacement.  The use of walking poles can once more, give us that needed extra support so we can get things moving again.

In fact, because of the many benefits of walking poles and it’s popularity, many large hospitals encourage the use of walking poles.  Medical associations likewise, agree with many major hospitals in this regard also.

Seniors especially gain benefits from walking pole use.

Don't Let your age stop you from pole walking

Don’t Let your age stop you from pole walking

For Those With Diabetes, OverWeight, High Blood Pressure

If we find ourselves suffering from any of the above, that is, high blood pressure, excess weight gain or diabetes, then take note of a few more benefits of using walking poles.

Many times our own personal physician will recommend different types of “exercises” for us.  If you find yourself in that category, then the use of walking poles is “just what the doctor ordered”  especially because of it’s low impact, and it’s many cardiovascular health benefits.

Why not try it and see for yourself?

You’ll almost immediately begin to note that with the use of walking poles, you have just transformed your entire body into a ‘walking machine’ by giving it a whole body workout.

A Word Of Caution

Keep in mind also, that if you’ve not used poles to walk with, do so only under the direction of your physician.  If he or she agrees, then work into it gradually.  Many times new ones will over due it the first time or two…begin to feel sore…and then just quit.

Feeling sore is a natural thing.  Those muscles that have not been used are going to try and tell you to… “stop!  It hurts!”  So the only way to get them to stop hurting, is to gradually work into a regular pole walking routine.  Soon they will begins to respond with “wow, I feel great!  let’s keep doing this” or something similar.

You’ll know when that times arrives.  🙂

You'll love the company

You’ll love the company!

A Sense Of Overall Wellness And Well Being

Being a low-impact type of exercise, it promotes not only fitness and health but also an overall feeling of well being.  Wouldn’t you agree that the time has come to really “get the juices flowing” again?

It has been proven that pole walking is deemed a catalyst to the promotion of rehabilitation along with much improved physical activities.  Not only that, but it’s great fun!

Comparisons To Other Forms Of Exercise

Many thousands, if not, 10’s of thousands of people worldwide, enjoy jogging, running, bicycle riding or swimming for exercise.  All of which work well.

But what exactly are the benefits as compared to pole walking?   Am I building muscle?  Am I burning calories?  All excellent questions that need to be answered.

Let’s start first with calories being burned.

Using a stationary bicycle, we burn about 200 calories per hour.  A quick paced walk is around 240 calories per hour. Jogging is a wee bit more at 280 calories per hour.  Swimming, which has also been deemed and overall body exercise, burns around 330 calories per hour.  A fast paced aerobics class can burn up to 440 calories per hour, which in itself, can be exhausting.

Pole walking which gives us a 90% total body workout, burns between a whopping 600 to 900 calories per hour!

So, not only are we burning more calories and using 90% whole-body muscles, but we also get to see beautiful new scenery, fresh air and enjoy conversations with friends that walk with us.

Thinking back on what we just covered, if we are even remotely considering a low-impact type of exercise, then why wait any longer?  Why not look into pole walking?  You may be pleasantly surprised with how many are actually doing this in your area.

Feeling adventurous?

Feeling adventurous?  With poles you can get  there.

Which ‘Stick’ Or ‘Pole’  Should I Use?

To answer the above will take more than just a name of a walking pole company.  However, the Nordic Walking Pole has pretty much dominated the scene.

They are the company that actually made it popular around the globe.  So to give them the only credit would be very easy to do but quite unfair to all the other great companies with walking poles.

But what should we know and how do we choose the correct one for us?

Find all the answers here that you’ll need to know in order to make an informed choice.

Written by :  Tom McDaniel Share this site

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