Cross Training Burns Calories While Building Muscle

Cross Training Burns Calories While Building Muscle

To answer the question of What is cross training for can be answered as simple as:  doing something other than what you have been doing all along.

In other words, if you are a swimmer, runner, weight lifter, or even a pole walker or trekker, it means that you have a different type of workout other than what you normally do.


During your workouts you are exerting the same muscles or muscle groups over and over.  This is considered to be working “a single plane” muscle group.  Constantly using the same muscle groups will eventually lead to injury.

By incorporating cross training you will be using different muscles.  Doing so will strengthen the weaker muscle groups.   As these weaker muscle groups get stronger, you will note improvements in your swimming, running, weight lifting and so on.

Joints and ligaments will be stronger allowing you to be more efficient.

Why not “mix it up”  with a variety of activities?

Getting Started

Stretching to loosen and lengthen muscles is always the best way to start.  You are preparing your body for what is to come.  Warm ups along with your workout routine can be as little as 30 minutes 3 times per week.

However, when you get into the groove of your workout, most people do not want to stop at 30 minutes.  A full sixty minutes is more like it.

Wanting to get started?  There are several way to do so.  One is the TRX Suspension Training Home Kit from Amazon.

The other would be Nordic Walking Poles.    If you are not familiar with Nordic walking poles, click here and find out more.

Using the Nordic Pole For Running

Using Nordic walking poles to run with is definitely not for beginners.  It is accomplished by those who are efficient at both running and walking with the Nordic poles.

At this level of activity it would be considered to be a high impact type exercise.  Using the Nordic poles to run with, you will find that you are being “propelled” forward, allowing you to have a much greater stride length.

When done correctly, the pole tips can act as a type of fulcrum to pivot from.  This in turn, will give you more strength along with that forward propulsion.

This type of high impact strength training can be useful for other activities such as those that have jumping and or, bounding type actions involved.

Tip Action Promotes More Muscle

There are two main ways that strength is attained.   Your upper body will gather more resistance from the pole tips.  The second way is to allow  the tip to remain on the running surface as long as possible.  In this way it creates greater strength by purposely stimulating muscle.

In other words, the longer (time wise) your tips are in contact with the ground, the longer your muscles receive stimulus.  More stimulus translates to more muscle building actions.

Uphill Training

Moving uphill will automatically call for more effort.  You will feel (and are probably correct) that you are moving slower.  However, with more practice, you can see and feel remarkable results very quickly.

Speed, pace along with the correct tempo, you are adding more load to your body, resulting in greater muscle stimulus.

Downhill walking or running is not going to give you as much of the needed muscle stimulus simply because gravity plays a roll in your movements.  It is easier to walk or run downhill than it is to move uphill.

Uphill Trails

Choosing an uphill terrain can be tricky.  How so?  Narrow pathways can be hazardous.  You need freedom of width to place your Nordic poles on either side of your body.  A narrow walking path does not provide the needed width.  Choose wisely.

Why Nordic Walking Poles?

The Nordic company has really set the standard for all other walking poles (sticks) to catch up to. For you to make an informed decision, you need more information as to which pole is right for you and what are the immediate benefits.

Written by :  Tom McDaniel Share this site

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What walking poles can do for you...

What walking poles can do for you…

We hear that statement often :  What walking poles can do for you…is simply amazing.  This rather simple tool can give you zest for life, an overall feeling of health, peace of mind along with being physically fit.  But how?

The Beginning Steps

If you’ve ever golfed or watched the game of golf, you’ll note that much of what is accomplished is through swing-technique.   That is, each stroke by every golfer is similar to each other…but slightly different too, because we are different.

The same can be said about using Nordic Walking Poles.  It is in the technique where we will get the most benefit.

The Break Down

The walking speed in which we begin our pole walking can determine how quickly we develop correct walking techniques.  Usually it’s best to walk slowly at first, being consciously  aware of how we are walking.

We’ll note  several things almost immediately.  Our walking stride will become longer, our back is straighter, chin is parallel to the walking surface, our arms are now being extending outwards as if shaking hands, our cardiovascular will improve almost overnight!

A slower, rhythmical type walking, almost graceful in appearance, can be accomplished within a short learning curve…if we learn the correct way right from the beginning.

Where Do We Begin? … At The Beginning of Course

Using Nordic walking poles is not like taking a stroll along the beach.  We are purposely walking a certain way to accomplish better health, lose weight, develop muscle, or have better breathing techniques.

Follow along as we progress through techniques that are necessary to master.

What To Focus On

Your focus should be on your upper body position.  Nordic poles “force” us to walk more upright, which in turn will develop muscles that keep good posture in our everyday walk.

Getting used to poles, one could spend much time on where the ends of each pole is landing and get distracted from walking correctly.

Concentrate on the long swing of your arms, once you find the correct “spot” for you, the pole tips will automatically find the correct positioning.

Pole rubber tips will give you that little extra push forward as you develop your stride.  Keep your shoulders level, eyes forward, hands relaxed while cupping the walking pole grips.

Release The Grip

Often times new ones to Nordic walking poles, will keep a tight grip on the handle of each pole, as if it were going to slip away from them.  However, with the proper hand strapping, you can release the grip each time you take a step.

That is just one of the proper techniques needed…releasing the grip when it is in the hip location as you walk.

Swing Naturally As You Walk

To start with, a flat surface is ideal.  Be aware of the way you are standing.  Stand as if you are being measured for your height.  Straight and tall but not at attention.

Now for the “beach walk” stroll, you’ll need to be at ease and walk slowly.  Concentrating on you posture, arm stretch out, grip release and so on.

Learn to completely let go of your poles.

Allow them to drag along with you.  Concentrate on that opposite movement of arms and legs working rhythmically with each other.  This will begin to feel  automated when we get it right.

Remember to keep you chin up, looking forward, and keep your balance.  This is the beginning development of proper posture.  Lower back muscle gains and back health will come quickly.

Proper grips

Proper grips are needed for release control

Motor Memory

Up to this point, as we walk or run, our arm movements have been short forward and backward movements to compensate for our balance.

With Nordic walking poles, we will need to learn to extend our arms out in front of us, (shaking hands across a wide table) with very little swing to the back.  In fact, long time Nordic pole walkers do not have hardly any rearward  swing past their hip area.

The forward hand extension should be no higher than about the middle of you stomach of navel area.  Your stride is also something that would lengthen as you progress.

Rotation of hips, slight shoulder rotation, lengthening of stride and arm stretch will give you that synchronized smooth walking skill we are trying to accomplish.

Proper grip, stride length, and rotation of hips are needed.

Written by:  Tom McDaniel Share this site

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What is a healthy heart rate

What is a healthy heart rate

Our heart does much more than just pump blood throughout our bodies. It monitors blood pressure, allows oxygen to mix with our blood (in the lungs) so all parts of our bodies are primed to ‘get up and get moving!’

But, what is a healthy heart rate and how do we not only monitor it, but achieve and maintain a healthy heart rate?

All good questions.

Very briefly, in order for that to take place, there MUST be some form of exercise on a regular basis. However, exercise does not have to be in a gym or running long distances.

Walking is one of the very best, entire body exercises. But, it needs to be done correctly. It’s not a stroll down the street, through the mall, or walking the dog in the park.

Getting Started

Indeed, there is a right way and a  ‘not so right way’  to walk and get needed benefits.  Since we are wanting to get our ‘juices’ flowing again, we need to know what and how, to do it.

The Nordic walking poles are one of the absolute best type of walking exercises that can be done.  Walking poles will work our entire upper body while the walking movements work our lower body.

Our Goal Is A Resting Heart Rate

Ideal  adult heart rates  should be somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) when we are at rest.  The lower the bpm indicates that we are more fit than those that have have a higher bpm rate.

So how do we get there?

An Illustration With A Good Ending

The human body is similar to a machine…but it is a very unique machine.  A machine will continue to work well until more is demanded of it than it is build for.

Our bodies, to a certain extent, can overcome that demand.

 For instance:

Having a one horsepower (hp) motor doing 1 hp worth of work is great.  But, when you try and make it do 2 hp worth of work, very quickly it will more than likely, fail.

On the other hand, our bodies, doing 1 hp worth of work is also great.  But, when we demand that it do 2 hp worth of work, we get worn out and realize where some “new” muscles are located because of their being sore.

However, as we continue to work at that 2 hp worth of work, our bodies will become stronger, leaner, more fit, and…our heart rate, when at rest, will naturally become lower.

That 2 hp work now becomes much easier to accomplish!

Why?  Because we have been doing 2 hp worth of work all day, and now, at rest, because our heart is stronger, it “hardly has to work” in order to pump our blood throughout our bodies.

This also applies to our regular exercise of walking.


Healthy Heart Rate 

What Do I Need To Get Started

First, you need a good walking route to not only keep safe, but enjoyable while you walk.

If you are a newly interested person and wanting to get fit, then you may want to check with your doctor first.  You may also want to purchase a few items to begin with.

The number one item is a pair of Nordic walking poles.  Shoes would also be a priority for both men and women.  Gloves for hand protection and gripping your pole should be considered but not mandatory (be aware of possible blisters though).

A need-to-know what is going on inside of us is beneficial.  Therefore, it’s especially beneficial to have a good quality  heart rate monitor for men.

Ladies, you too would benefit from knowing your own personal heart rate.

A simple to use pedometer will let you know how far you have traveled.  This is beneficial if you choose to  walk different routes.

Be Careful When You Start

If you have all necessary funds to get started with, then skip this area.  On the other hand, if funds are limited, or you just want to limit your spending, then shop wisely.

The Nordic walking poles need to be investigated.

Questions such as : Which are best for you, what is  your walking terrain, how about weather conditions, how often do you plan to walk, what is the proper length of poles, how do you adjust them just for you and so on, have all been addressed here.

Shoes that propel you forward are best suited.  Nordic walking shoes have been specially designed just for that.

Heart monitors, pedometers, gloves and so on, are not all needed to begin with, but should be viewed as a safety monitor for peace of mind as you walk.

Enjoy Your Walks

Become well acquainted with Nordic type tools and exercise equipment beforehand.  You’ll be pleased with how many other friends will want to join with you…once  you get started. 🙂

Written by :   Tom McDaniel Share this site

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Choose A Walking Route Planner

What Is  A Walking Route Planner           image by:sparkpeople

The question :  What is a walking route planner, can be defined differently by many authorities.  However, most folks that are wanting a route planner are just regular people that want to walk in safety, in beautiful surroundings, with friends, with their dog(s) or for a vigorous workout.  Some even accept the challenge of walking across the entire country!

Much depends on what you, as an individual, want as an end result.

On the other hand, planning an “attack” on our health is also another type or form of a plan, wanting to be in the very best condition physically that we can be.

Where Do We Start?

Overcoming bad habits can be a real challenge.  Have you read about or even heard about the 30-30-30 attack method of overcoming bad habits and replacing them with good habits?

In this instance, we want the good habit of a regular walking routine.

The 30-30-30 challenge works like this…For a period of 30 days, we will take the time EACH DAY to read or listen to an audio recording of something positive.  It will be for a period of 30 minutes EACH DAY.   If we miss a day, then we start the 30 days over again.  So it is beneficial for us when we start that we do not miss a single day.

Since we want to be fit physically, then we read or listen to something that is health related.  Perhaps how to create good meals, proper warm up techniques, benefits of proper exercise for our age, physical condition or rehabilitation.

(Reading or listening to things of this nature will train us for having the proper mental attitude for exercise.)

We have to be the judge of what we can and can not do.

But why 30 days?  It’s known that to make or break a bad habit and create a good habit, it takes 30 to 45 days of doing that same thing over and over again.  Our brain and body begins to form “muscle memories” for that activity.

In this case, we want to begin a walking routine route planner.  We begin with a place in our local area that meets all of the safety and physical requirements that we want.  Once that is satisfied, then we begin.

Will it be indoors or outdoors?  Know what you are after.

Often times this highly successful type of “attitude attack” is applied to many areas in life.  In this case, we want to  apply it to our getting into a good physically fit routine, thereby, creating a good habit.   Having the desire to be fit is one thing, actually following through with it is where many fail.

Beautiful Scenery Is Desired

If we choose a walking route that encompasses scenery that is not only enjoyable to see and be in, but also safe to travel, then why not take advantage of it?  Do not ever underestimate the motivating factor of a beautiful route.

It’s true about things that we enjoy, we usually repeat them, over and over.  That can be true also of our route that we have chosen.

Year round scenery changes

Year round scenery changes

Too, as the year changes, so do our surroundings.  We take note of these gradual changes and want to keep coming back.   Just being out of doors in itself, compliments us and has positive effects on our health and mental well being.

Parks, open spaces, woodland trails, along rivers or lakes, canals or even near or on the beach are areas for consideration.  In the city, well lit streets for winter walking, tree lined or flower patches for spring or summer walking.  Perhaps we’ll  choose to take advantage of so-called bike paths.  They are usually safe and well traveled.

Need light rain gear?  How about a broad brimmed hat for the sun?

Regardless of where you choose to walk, be sure and take along with you, plenty of water and perhaps a type of energy snack for just-in-case.

Nordic pole walkers can go everywhere

Nordic pole walkers can go everywhere

Be Safe

As we walk, often times we are so “into it” that we forget about things that could possibly happen to us.  For instance.  Be sure that we avoid high crime areas.  Watch out for congested areas whether it be people, animals, or traffic.  Remember too, that there are others that take advantage of walking areas.

They may not be walking though.  Perhaps bicycle riders, skate boarders, roller-blades and many similar activities can be around us.  Just use common sense when making our choice of walking areas and times of day.

Some even choose to carry, not only water and a snack, but also a whistle to sound alarm if need be.  Others choose to carry an easy to reach can of hot pepper/mace type of personal protection.

If you anticipate animals, such as dogs, or even wildlife animals of any sort, bear spray is one of the absolute best types of defense.  It has a spray of some 20 to 30 feet and can also deter people that may do harm to us.

What Are We Desiring?

Overall fitness is something that all of us desire.  Some begin with the gym.  Others want to stay at home for a home-style workout.  And even more want to be with others that have similar goals and form a support group.  Whichever you choose, just do it on a regular basis using the 30-30-30 method to get started with.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blogs, you will note how beneficial walking is.  This can be especially true when using the Nordic walking poles (sticks as some call them) to get an overall body workout.

These workouts can be tremendously beneficial.  They can also be of great variety.  Intensity can be a factor also.   A slow casual walk, or perhaps a sightseeing type walk, to an intermediate type of walk or for those that really want to benefit quickly, a fast paced, heart pounding walk that works some 90% of our entire body muscles.

Entire Body Fitness Is Desired

Using the Nordic walking poles can be a challenge.  Getting our walking coordination to be in sync with using poles is not difficult.  We are really working with gravity and resistance in complementing our body muscles.  Nordic walking poles will help to redistribute our body weight and effort.  This is especially true with our lower body.

On the other hand, our core or upper body also gets into this workout.  It helps each of us to walk tall with a much improved posture.

A healthy heart and increased cardiorespiratory activities are highly desired.  This can be met by almost anyone at any fitness level.  As we apply the 30-30-30 routine in our lives, we will actually miss it when we are not able to get to our routine.

It’s quite addictive

If we choose to walk, then it should be on a daily basis.  If not, then a minimum amount of regular walking would be 3 or 4 times per week.  It should be 30 minutes each time.  But if we are unable to do that all at once, then quick bouts of 3 or 4 minutes throughout the day that add up to a total of 30 minutes per day would also be acceptable.

Year round enjoyment when using Nordic walking poles

Expect Year round enjoyment when using Nordic walking poles

Weight Loss Benefits Of A Route Planner

Have you decided where you will be walking?  Rough terrain?  City streets?  Through the neighborhood?  In a gym on a flat surface?

The terrain we choose to walk on can directly affect our loss of weight.  The more we exert ourselves, the more calories we will burn, even when at rest.

Using Nordic poles will burn more calories than traditional walking.  But keep in mind that until you reach the fat-burning-heart-rate,  we may not be seeing many changes in ourselves.

As soon as we reach that level, that is, the fat-burning-heart-rate, we will begin to see the fat seemingly “melting off” our body!

Walking with poles on our own walking route planner will take some finesse and skill. Don’t get discouraged when you begin.

Can you think of another place to walk?

Use your imagination 

Posture, Joints, Bone Density Add Up To Less Stress

As we walk with poles, we note that there is a slight rotation movement going on in our back.  This is beneficial.  Using upper and lower back muscles will automatically improve our posture.

With better posture, we begin to feel, act, and notice “better coordination” in all activities of life.  Plus, by having more cardiovascular activities, we have increased our endurance level.  Those activities that used to wear us out no longer do so.

Walking poles will help redistribute the effort that it takes to walk.  This is especially beneficial for those that are recovering from surgery, injury,  a birth defect or just getting started with a physical exercise routine.

By allowing the Nordic walking poles to take some of the strain, it allows our knees, back, and other joints to not be so stressed as we walk.

This is especially noted when we walk either up or down hills.

Bone density will increase.  Bone density is desired.

The more we use our body, bone will increase to make up for the effort we are putting it through.  Baseball pitchers and tennis players have been known to have somewhere as much as 4 times the bone density in the arm used most when compared to the arm used less frequently.

Since we want overall bone density, the use of walking poles meet that requirement, forcing  us to use all our bones and body muscles.

Don’t Get Stressed

Have you ever heard of “runner’s high?”

Anticipating the "walker's  high"

Anticipating the “walker’s high”

It is the point that all runners are trying to attain.  It is when your body releases endorphins which in turn, gives each runner a sense of being “high” along with an overall sense of well being.  It is a desirous thing.

Many who take up the Nordic walking routine, soon experience this.  They also experience less stress, not only to their joints, but in their mental outlook as well.

In addition to this is the ability for better pain management, along with endurance and greater muscle gain.

Since a much improved body efficiency in using oxygen as we get into a walking routine has been noted, we find that we become more aware of our surroundings.  Not only that, but we increasingly become aware of our finely tuned “engine” (a.k.a. our body) and it’s workings.

We take note of our heartbeat, our breathing, walking pace, how our feet touch the ground, we even “feel” the earth under our feet, the rhythm of our poles, our coordinated walking stride, and how our body is responding to this newly acquired skill along with how  our muscles are being strengthened with every stride.

With all of the above working together in harmony, we soon realize that our being stressed-out by everyday issues and/or problems seem to be not so overwhelming after all.  In fact, we even find that remedies for issues or problems, readily come to us as we walk.

Walking Route Planner

So you can see that a walking route planner can mean  all sorts of things to all sorts of different folks.   Did you see where you fit in?

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Why not consider using your newly developed walking skills with a set of Nordic walking poles?  After all, the purchase of these poles is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.  They can be taken with you wherever you go.

But which pole should you purchase?  How can I know which is right for me?

Written by :  Tom McDaniel Share this site!

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What walking poles can do for you

What walking poles can do for you

Walking comes naturally to us, so why use walking poles?  Can’t I just use a stick?   Let’s dig a bit deeper into what walking poles can do for us, which are the best to use and why, in the first place, should we even consider using them.

Reasons To Use Nordic Walking Poles

Have you ever experienced a lower back pain?  Statistics show that about 85% or more, adults at one time or another, suffer lower back pain.  Walking sticks can help alleviate much, if not all of the pain.  That can include hip and knee pain as well.

Keeping fit and maintaining your wind is of primary importance to many who are conscious of health.  Pole walking is similar to cross country skiing.  In fact, that is where it began.  Many professional cross country skiers would train with poles and rollers skates in the off season.

The so-called “urban poling” began way back in the 1930’s in Finland.  Since then, it has seen a booming growth for health conscious people of all ages and backgrounds.

Urban poling can be done with friends

Urban poling can be done with friends

What About Running?

As popular as running or jogging is, many just can not do it.  Aches and pains, the constant jarring of one’s bones against each other, let alone the lack of support for women unless wearing  a specially constructed sports bra, all can have a negative effect on a person.

Joint pain will eventually begin to take it’s toll, making our running routine not as enjoyable as it once was.

Follow the leader

Let’s play Follow the leader

Walking, on the other hand, is a great alternative to running.  Using the Nordic walking poles can bring back the fun in exercise or just an excuse to get outside.  Its a great challenge to get yourself into a walking sync while using the poles.

Take a quick look at the correct way to walk with poles.  Afterwards, be sure and come back.

Click for short How-To Video

Walking Tall

Once we learn how to properly walk with poles, and get used to the “cat calls” about “forgetting your skis” or “hey, it’s not winter yet” and things similar, in short order, we’ll note that not only are we getting into better shape, but we are actually walking more erect.

Stooping and slouching is pretty much unheard of after a regular pole walking routine.   Upper body strength, better posture, and those shapely, muscular legs begin to show.  Women, don’t worry about “muscles” popping out.

Muscles that you will be using while Nordic pole walking

Keep in mind that the muscles in your legs are the ones that you’ll want to show off.  After all, it’s those leg muscles that give your legs their shape.   Not only will you be using some 600 different muscles throughout your body, but you’ll also be burning some 400 or more, calories each hour you walk.

How To Prepare Before Walking

Your feet are one of your most important assets that need to be considered before starting out.  So a quick look at the terrain you will be walking in will determine what type of comfortable walking style shoe you will be needing.

Whether it’s around the neighborhood or through the forest, even or uneven surfaces with tripping hazards need to be considered.  How is the weather?  Expecting rain?  Wind? Lots of sun?   Whatever it may be, you can wear or carry it with you (a light backpack comes in handy here).

A good leg workout

Gives your legs a great shape!

If you are a wee bit leary about starting out with walking poles, you may want to consider taking a few lessons as to the proper way to get the most benefit from your poles.

It only takes one or two lessons to really get the hang of it.  Plus, you can enjoy the association of others that are likewise, exercising with poles.  It’s great fun.

Which Pole Is Right For You?

Often times when we think “walking stick,”  what comes to mind is a stiff branch or a small tree that we made into a walking stick.   That would be partially correct.  Some of the Nordic walking poles or sticks, are indeed,  rigid with a fixed length.

However, since we are all of different heights, walking stride, way of walking and so on, it would be better to have a walking pole that fits us as an individual.  Therefore, the adjustable type walking pole is a much better fit.

The most popular pole that  Nordic has to offer would be the Leki Supreme Shark.  It is fitted with cork handle, quick release strap and comes with the Powergrip paws (the rubber ends on each pole).  Sturdy, but light in weight, and fully adjustable in length to fit you and your stride.

On the other hand, you can start out with the Nordic Walking Instructor Trekking Pole.  Less expensive but just as effective and fully adjustable.

There is also the Nordic Walking Carbon VIP Poles that work amazingly well.  Fitted with removable rubber tips making them ideal for indoor or outdoor use.   One drawback for this excellent walking pole is they are not adjustable.  But, being very user friendly, they can be used as an “everyday walker.”

Nordic pole walking is stimulating !

Nordic pole walking is stimulating !

How To Choose

Though rigid walking poles are less likely to have vibration, the fully adjustable type walking poles are exceedingly strong and any vibration that may be felt is kept to a bare minimum.  These poles will last for years to come and are safe to use.

With several different type poles to choose from, let’s briefly consider each one.  First there is the non adjustable or fixed length, second would be the extendable, third is adjustable and telescopic, and finally there is the strapless and trekking poles.

Going Strapless?

One of the best things that Nordic has going for them is the easy release straps.  Going without the use of these straps is NOT recommended.  The strapless pole would be used by individuals that may have a balance issue and would need to quickly release the poles in case of a fall.

The fixed length pole is just as it says.  Fixed.  In choosing this pole, one would have to be confident enough in themselves that they know the exact length they would need.  But keep in mind that more than likely, these individuals would not be able to improve and/or develop their individual technique.

The extendable pole is almost the same as the fixed pole, with one exception.  It does have an adjustment that is close to the handle that can absorb any vibration.  This pole can be adjusted to fit each person exactly.

On the other hand, the fully adjustable poles are for everyone.  All walkers enjoy the ease and freedom that this pole offers.  Being fully flexible, it’s completely suitable for all Nordic pole walkers.

Enjoy backpacking?  Then the telescopic poles are what you want.  These poles will fold down so as to fit into a backpack, suitcase or just handy to carry.  Not taking up much space, they are a great add-on for a vacation, or even walking through a city.

However, keep in mind that since they are made up of 3-piece construction, they do have a bit of a tendency to vibrate as you walk.  If you can deal with vibration, then this is the ideal pole for you.

With a lightweight backpack and Nordic Walking Poles

With a lightweight backpack and Nordic Walking Poles You can  go to amazing places.

A Final Note

A lightweight pole is best.  Nordic poles are light in weight, yet sturdy.  We feel that though carbon is best suited for walking, being more expensive, most people tend to shy away from it unless they are seasoned pole walkers.

A unique feature of the Nordic walking pole is the ability to remove or replace the rubber feet (or paws) on each of the poles.  They are properly angled so as to give their user much needed stability.

Something to look for in poles is, if the rubber feet are not easy to remove and replace, plus not having  the correct angle, then more than likely, it is not an official Nordic walking pole.  Just be aware.

The hand straps are a great feature.  Not only for helping to stop hand fatigue, but  safety  also.  They should be simple to attach and detach from the pole and your hand.

Though Nordic walking poles have been around for many years, there are several other  excellent walking poles on the market that can be well suited for you.

Some of the names of well established and reputable companies would include :

Leki      Gabel      Swix      Komperdell

Having built their reputation on creating and manufacturing ski poles, you know they have to be some of the top companies in the world.

Enjoy your new found exercise and healthy lifestyle with Nordic Walking Poles.   Feel free to leave a comment below.

An enjoyable pastime with friends.

Why not take up An enjoyable pastime with friends?

Written by :  Tom McDaniel Share this info.

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Walking can be a pleasant experience

Walking can be a pleasant experience

Walking is something that, as an adult or young person, we do without even thinking about. However, though walking is a necessary thing, in many cases, we can get along quite well without walking, at least, not walking long distances. So, we ask:  What Is A Long Walk? 

Let’s see if we can define the term ‘long walk’, OK?

Survival Without Walking, Can It Be Done?

In most of the so-called, industrialized world, the average person can survive everyday activities with only walking a few hundred yards throughout the day. Perhaps a bit more, or less, depending on the days activities.

Transportation is a means that we use that takes away the “skill” of walking. Taxi, bus, car, truck, bikes, motorcycles and so on. With those advantages, people choose to not walk, much to our own personal detriment.

Often times we are “forced” to walk because me missed the bus, the train, the car broke down or perhaps we’ve gotten a flat tire. In those cases, we MUST walk.

On the other hand, there are many pleasant places that we can walk and at the same time, give the kids a great place to run around and “burn up some energy.”

Not a "Long Walk" when you are entertained by the kids!

Not a “Long Walk” when you are entertained by the kids!

But, What About The Kids?

We’ve all heard the fantastic stories of our parents or grandparents. You know, it goes like this: “When I was a youngster, I had to walk 5 miles to school every day, in two feet of snow, summer and winter, uphill, both ways!”

Now, we know that is not possible, that is, to walk the same road, summer and winter in two foot of snow, or both ways and be going uphill in either direction. A bit of a stretch would’t you agree?

What is it that they are trying to say?  Kids today are just plain lazy!  If that is so, what about us as parents?  What are we doing to set a proper example?

Simply put, we need to set the example.  A very simple way to start is by walking or perhaps bicycling along a pleasant and interesting trail.


Well Adapted To Walk…

If you’ve ever watched a baby learn to walk, you know that he/she will continue to struggle in order to gain that ability.  Then when they do take that first step, we, as parents or one who is watching, will give them praise and laugh in delight.   So, why can’t we enjoy walking as adults?  Well, we can…

Benefits Of Walking

Evidence shows that walking “exercise” can help older ones to improve their cognitive (referring to their ability to remember and knowing what is going on around them) abilities. Especially is that recognized by the medical field with those that have Alzheimer’s.

By those daily walks, it has been shown that one’s health improves and longevity  in our usefulness continues for many more years.  Especially for individuals over the age of 70.

Have you ever “forgot” how much you’ve “forgotten?”  A regular walking exercise, can and does, improve our abilities regarding, remembering things.  Not only remembering each day, but even in the long run of things.  Memory naturally improves.

And what about some health benefits?  Both men and women will benefit from brisk walks done on a regular basis.  Daily is usually best.

What Is A Long Walk ?

If we are walking for exercise, do we need to go for miles?  Not really.  In fact, according to “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” they state :   “Accumulating 30 minutes of brisk walking in short, 3 minute bouts is equally effective in reducing  ………  systolic blood pressure as is one continuous 30 minute bout.”

In others words, if we do not have the time to walk for 30 minutes, one time per day, we can break it down into shorter, but more brisk walking episodes throughout the day.

Children who walk to school, play outdoor activities, after school sports and so on, are usually in better shape than those who do not engage in physical type activities.  The same is true for adults.

All In All, Walking Is A Healthy Activity

You know yourself better than others.  So, do you walk or not?  Before ever engaging in any type of physical activities if you’ve not done so for some time, always be sure and check with your physician before doing so.

Types Of Walking

Pole walking

Pole walking

A long walk does not seem so long when done with poles.

A long walk does not seem so long when done with poles.

When we think of walking, often times it’s that ‘leisurely stroll’ that comes to mind.  You know, it’s that walk that we take when we go to the mailbox to pick up the mail.  It also comes into play when we are doing any type of shopping, say, in the grocery store, the mall, or looking for a new or used car.

Even a leisure walk can be beneficial exercise, if done correctly.  As we walk, be sure that our legs are straightened out, not locked, but extended to a straight position.  Allow your heel to lightly touch the ground, then make a smooth transition to the balls of your foot.

However, be sure to  NOT  be slamming your heel into the ground as if trying to make a hole, but just ever so gently allowing your heel to touch, then allowing your natural forward momentum to shift your weight to the ball of your foot.

You can also tighten those glutes as you walk.  Each step can be an exercise in itself.

Walking uphill is also a great exercise.  Try walking up a series of steps or a stairwell several times.  You’ll see which muscles come into play immediately.  When out of doors, try and imitate that same stair stepping walk when walking uphill.  Start with allowing the ball of your foot to touch, then mid section, and sometimes, your heel to touch fully on the ground.

But how about walking downhill?  Is there a technique to that also?  Downhill walking is far easier than walking uphill.  Quite naturally, gravity will tend to “pull” us down to the lowest point.  So what is it that we need to know?

Since walking downhill is a type of stopping, that is, stopping ourselves from “falling” down the hill, there is a proper way to walk.  As you walk downhill, you’ll note that your entire foot will be used here.  Your whole foot will be your stop controller.  Try and keep your weight towards your heels and not the ball of your foot or your toes.

Be sure and keep your upper body over your hips and as straight as possible.   If you allow your upper torso to sway, it’s quite easy to lose your balance, plus extra energy is being used unnecessarily.  Just be aware of how you are walking.

This next type of walk is one that many children and  hunters will do automatically.  It can be called the hunched or stalking type of walk.

When walking uphill, usually we may be in a type of hunched or crouched position.  Knees are bent, perhaps we are stooped over at the waist and even looking down at the ground.  Why so?  Rocks, sticks, clumps of weeds or grass, tree roots are things we are on the lookout for.

Uneven ground forces us to have our knees slightly bent, making us use the ball of each foot to make sure we keep our footing.  This type of terrain is a good “exercise” for older ones as it helps them to be able to maintain balance.

Taking shorter steps is the proper way to walk uphill, similarly, hunched or stalking type of walking will do the same.  Take note that as you walk, the ball, then the mid-foot, and finally, your heel will land.  That is the proper way to walk uphill.

Stop Being A Bump On A Log !

The proverbial “bump on a log” never moves, or if it does, it’s because someone or something else, moved the log itself.  We need to make sure we are not that bump!

So what do we do?  We get up and start moving!  If we sit behind a desk or do very little walking during the day, then we are perfect for the walking exercises mentioned above.

Why not start today or perhaps tomorrow with our newly found walking routine?  Waking up 15 minutes earlier will give us that bit of extra time to walk around the yard, the block, or even around our apartment building.  Whatever works best for us, JUST DO IT!

Try to get your walking done when you first arise in the mornings.  Why?  Because by the end of the day, most people will say, “I’m just too tired to go for a walk.”

But I Might Get Poked !

When was the last time you walked outside barefoot?  Remember when you were a kid?  It was great to not have to wear shoes.  How about now?

Why not take those early morning walking periods to do so barefooted?  Nevermind the so-called broken glass, sharp rocks, biting ants and so on.  Walk through the grass, allow the grass to massage your toes, letting the morning dew “wash” your feet, or perhaps letting that cool morning sidewalk glide smoothly underfoot.

Use wisdom though, when walking barefoot.  Be on the lookout for those nasty little “pokey” things that do on occasion, show up where we are walking.

Do You Do It ?  Why Not Be Adventurous? 

Get the family involved from an early age.

Get the family involved from an early age.

Entertaining the entire "family" can be fun also!

Entertaining the entire “family” can be fun also!  Especially if your bike floats on water!

Reading about exercising is certainly good.  Educating ourselves as to what and how we can do so is beneficial.  However, we need to honestly take a look at ourselves and ask :  Am I taking the time out of my busy workday to walk?

After all, we are the one getting the benefits of do so.  It’s great fun and beneficial too!

Written by :  Tom McDaniel Share this site

Images by:   playbuzz,copyrightfreeimages,shutterstock,,visualphotos,


What is the best pair of hiking boots to protect these?

What is the best  hiking boot  to protect these?

“An army marches on its stomach.”  But even a full stomach can not replace your feet!

The above quote has been attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.   Whether he actually said it or not, is not important.  On the other hand, even if your stomach is full, without the proper foot protection, even an “army” can not march.

How Important Are Our Feet

Regardless of how careful we are when hiking or backpacking, accidents do happen.  It can cripple a person in seconds.  Not being able to walk can put a person at a huge disadvantage.   Depending on the type of terrain you will be in, will depend on the type of hiking or backpacking boot that’s needed.  Similarly, the weather needs to be taken into consideration.

For instance, will you be in warmer weather  where little to no rain falls or in higher mountain terrains where you will be crossing streams, snow fields or creeks?    Will it be a nice path, or rocky and uneven  ground?  All potential hiking conditions need to be considered when buying hiking/backpacking boots.

Once you’ve got it in mind about your hiking conditions, then you can shop for the proper boot.  Keep in mind though, that hiking/backpacking boots can be a bit on the pricey side.  But then again, how important are your feet and ankles?  So in this situation, use balance. Compare prices, but try not to compromise what you will actually be needing in a good boot.

What To Look For In A Boot

Old Style hiking boot. Where is the comfort here?

Old Style hiking boot. Where is the comfort here?

First and foremost in choosing the right boot for you is…comfort.  A good fit will give you ankle support if you lose your footing on loose rocks.  A twisted ankle can really make for a very bad day!  You should also have some “wiggle room” at the toe.  A snug fit around your ankle (if you choose the high topped boot) will stop your foot from sliding into the toe area when walking down steeper slopes.

A good sturdy midsole  support footbed will  give you needed protection while walking over sharp rocks.  A non-midsole support boot will allow twisting, plus you will “feel” the point of every rock you walk on.

On the other hand, if you are on a smooth path with little obstacles to traverse, then a nice comfortable low topped boot may be just the ticket for you.  Textile types of boots can be broke in within just a few hours.  Unlike leather or Gortex  boots which may take several days to break in.

Be sure and consider the trail-running shoes/boots for those longer distant day hikes.  They give the needed support but at the same time, are lightweight with a quick break-in time period.

Trail -running shoes for men.

Trail-running shoes for women.

A final note when choosing hiking/backpacking boots or shoes.

Wear hiking socks when testing the fit.  Cotton gym socks are not designed for hiking/backpacking boots.  Heavy wool socks are a good start.  They not only  allow your foot to “breathe” from perspiration, but will let you know if you have enough “wiggle room” for your toes.  Comfort is first on the list.

Types Of Boots

Trail running shoes are light weight with good foot protection

Trail running shoes are light weight with ankle and foot support.

Still confused?  Let’s see if we can simplify this decision even more.

Trail walking shoes can be of lightweight material, and be either low or high topped.  Depending on what you feel you need for your feet and ankle support.  This type of footwear can be used during day walks while carrying a lightly filled backpack, and don’t forget considering the trail-running shoes.

Going out for a weekend backpacking trip?

Then the hiking boot would be more suitable for you.  This sturdier footwear boot will give you the much needed ankle support along with the sole of your feet while carrying a light to medium weight backpack.

Many of these boots have built into them, a type of water resistance to keep your feet dry  from wet grasses, muddy trails, or shallow creeks that you will undoubtedly be walking through.

For the more serious backpacker, a much sturdier boot will be needed.

These boots are usually waterproof as compared to water resistance.  However, keep in mind that on some backpacker boots, the tongue may or may not be included in the water proofing.  Be sure to check.   Being designed for more rugged terrain, this boot will take much longer to break in.  But remember, comfort is always first.

Each of the above mentioned type of footwear, should have a cushioned top around ankles.

Backpacker/Hiking boots for men.

Backpacker/Hiking boots for women.

Finally, for the professional, the mountaineering boot is a must!

Being much heavier in weight, waterproof, stiff midsole, tough and super durable, they’re designed  to support feet and ankles while carrying very heavy loads.  Once more, depending on where you intend to go, be sure and check with your boot manufacturer to see if they will accept any type of cramp-on’s.

Mountaineering boots for men.

Mountaineering boots for women.

All mountaineering boots will usually accept the the strap-on type of cramp-on’s.   These consist of nylon web straps  that can be adjusted to fit each boot style.  Just be sure that the cramp-on’s center bar will fit at the flexing part of your boot/shoe if you are wearing the more flexible type.

Alps boot by Josef Hochkofler style

Alps boot by Josef Hochkofler style

Mountaineering boots with a minimum of 3/8″ welt (the groove around the boot) at the heel and toes, would be ideal for the step-in style of cramp-on.  This style has a “wire bail” type of fit.  You literally step into it, while the at the heel, a lever is  clamped to the heel of the boot.   Simply put, this is the quickest and easiest cramp-on to attach.  Remember though, it’s not designed for medium or light weight boots.


A blend of the above two styles of crampons are what many call, the hybrid.

This style  has both the heel lever and the strap for the toe of the boot.  Since the toes are strapped in, there is no need for a welt.  Being a blend of both, this hybrid crampon is compatible with almost all lightweight mountaineering boots and a number of backpacking boots.  But be aware that they may not work for hiking boots/shoes.

An all-around crampon for men and women.

Hiking boot with crampons

Hiking boot with crampons

Boot Fitting…What To Know

Stressing the importance of comfort, can not be understated.  After all, if you purchase a boot, then realize that it is not right for you, most stores will not accept a returned boot that has been worn outside.  A boot can be worn inside your home over a long period of time and still be able to be returned in good condition.

Wear the same type of socks that you will be using while hiking.  Try on boots at the end of the day, not morning or midday.  Why? Keep in mind that your feet swell some throughout the day, and later afternoon or early evenings are best for trying on boots.

Do you wear some type of shoe insert?  Be sure and take it with you to use in each boot you try on.

Take your time with each boot you are considering.  Sales staff, in many places, just want to make a quick sale, so don’t  be pressured to make a quick decision.  Walk around in the store for some time.  Sit down, squat, rock back and forth on the balls of your feet a few times, along with lifting your feet up high.  After all, you never know how high of a step you may have to make while backpacking.

If you should choose to not go into any store to try on boots, but would rather purchase from an online retailer, do some serious research on brand name boots.  Read reviews about what others have said about certain brands.  Or, on the other hand,  perhaps,  you’ve purchased a certain brand before, and want to stay with it.  Then your shopping will become easy.  All you need look for is style and perhaps price.

Know Your Size…Along with Comfort…Comfort…Comfort



However, if you’ve never shopped online before, keep in mind that to have a proper fit, the best way is to measure your foot properly.  Most shoe/boot stores have the needed equipment to do so.  Knowing your foot size can make boot shopping a pleasant experience.

Lugs, Lacing Systems, And Materials…What Do I Need To Know?   Click This Link

Have you had a hiking experience?  Which boot would you recommend?  Where did you hike?

Leave me your comments below and be sure to share this site…

Written by :   Tom McDaniel

Photos by:JeanYvesCoput,Joadl,

Thomas Burke

Thomas Burke

Burke Gilman Trail     – “Road Trip”

Daniel Gilman

Daniel Gilman

Riding The Burke Gilman Trail  is more than just a bicycle ride.

As you bike your way through beautiful scenery (it’s about 27 miles long) you’ll begin to understand why people who visit Seattle want to stay in Seattle.

It’s absolutely beautiful! Bicycling on the Burke Gilman Trail is one of those events in life that you will enjoy so much that you will be unaware of the actual distance you have traveled!

Let’s take a brief trip down memory lane and the early beginnings of the Burke Gilman Trail.

Way back in 1885, Daniel Gilman and Thomas Burke and others decided that it was time to bring railroad traffic into the city of Seattle.  Their reason?  They wanted to, of course, make money for themselves but also to make Seattle a major transportation center that others would want to flock to.

They started small, but were thinking big.  Originally, they wanted their line to connect with the Canadian Transcontinental Line.  However, it was just not to be. Their Rail Line got about as far as Arlington.  But even so, it had tremendous local traffic.  Who were the  “passengers?” ……….  Logs!

Here Come The Brides!

An early Seattle Bride

An early  Seattle Bride…  (click pics for larger image)

Remember, Seattle back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, was mainly a huge “logging camp” type city.

In fact, there were so many men in the Seattle area that there was a shortage of women and future wives.

Back in the 1960’s TV show era, there was a weekly series called “Here Come The Brides” that showed how the men in the  Seattle lumber camps, actually “imported” women from around the country to come and live in this newly developed city of “rough and tumble” men, as their wives.

Many dozens of women met the challenge and moved to Seattle!

Have you ever heard the term “skid road?”  That was the term used when the cut logs were dragged through the Seattle “streets” and “skidded” up to the waterfront, then loaded onto the waiting ships in Puget (pew-jet) Sound.

It did not take long for word to get around about the new influx of women into Seattle.  Needless to say, Seattle really began to take off and grow as a city.

The trading and supplying of goods to Alaska, was another “growth spurt” for this great city in the Pacific Northwest.

Rattlesnake Prairie

Now, getting back to the railroad line.  This short-line built by Burke and Gilman, went to another area called Rattlesnake Prairie located above the Snoqualmie Falls area.  (FYI  there are no rattlesnakes in western Washington, it’s just too cold for them)

Rest assured, there are no rattlesnakes, but I have to admit, it is an interesting name.  In 1913, that short line now came under the control of the Northern Pacific Railway, and eventually a part of the Burlington Northern Railroad in about 1970.

Now The Good Stuff!

About a year later, in 1971, the track was totally abandoned by Northern Pacific Railway, paving the way for the Burke Gilman Trail. Officially, the Trail begins at 11th Ave. NW in Ballard.  Ballard is a suburb of Seattle.

The Burke Gilman Trail presently follows along the Lk. Washington Ship Canal (which is a great place to enjoy the water and boats) and then north along Lk. Washington.

A bit of the Trail

A bit of the Trail

Everyone enjoys the Trail

Everyone enjoys the Trail












A slight change in the direction also changes the name of the Trail.  When you get to Blyth Park in the Bothell area, (a section of Seattle) the Trail now becomes the Sammamish River Trail and will give you at least another 10 miles of scenic views.

One thing I always enjoyed about this Trail is that it can be enjoyed by all members in your family.

Little ones and big ones. And for those little toddlers, there are bicycle rental shops where you can have a “kiddie car” attached to your bike so those little ones can come along with you.

Through The College And Beyond

University of Washington in Seattle

University of Washington in Seattle…  (click pics for larger image)

As you meander through the sights and sounds that come your way on this beautiful Trail, you’ll be taken right through the campuses of the University of Washington where you will come in contact with students, teachers, profs., and general bike traffic of all kinds.

Since Seattle is a very bike friendly city, you’ll need to be aware that there are certain “rules of the road” on this Trail.

Just to name a few:

Go slow.   Remember, no racing is allowed.  There are walkers, joggers, children, dogs on leashes (bring your own pet “poopie bags” for clean ups, it’s mandatory),  elderly, sightseers and all manner of folks enjoying this scenic trail.

If you want to ride fast, then you need the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map.  It will show alternate routes for those who have a “need for speed.”

Keep to the right.  So, just like driving your car and having to keep right, the same applies when you are walking, riding or skate boarding on the Trail. Pass on the left only.   Again, remember the traffic laws.  Pass only on the left.  When you sound your bell, horn or simply say, “passing on your left”, those ahead of you will automatically move to the right.

Respect others.   Remember that you are not the only one on the trail.  Show manners and allow others to do the same.

Horses and motor vehicles are not allowed.  That would include motorized skateboards, battery powered vehicles of all sorts (wheelchairs are the exception).

Helmets are a must!  Enforced throughout the state. Pedestrians of all sorts, whether walking, jogging, stopping, or skating, all have the right-of-way over bicycle riders.  So be on the look out.

The Divided Trail

Be on the look out for 96th Ave NE.  Here the Trail forks.   Left turn, and you will continue on to the Sammamish Trail as mentioned above.  It will continue on for another 11 miles or so, right on into Redmond (where Microsoft headquarters are). Right turn will take you across the Sammamish River where this section of the Burke Gilman Trail ends at Riverside Drive.

Gateway Park

Since you’ve decided to go Left onto the Sammamish River Trail, keep an eye open for the  railroad trestle in Woodinville which is about 3 miles down the Sammamish River Trail.   Look for Wilmot Gateway Park.  Need a rest?  That’s the place to do it.

Public restrooms and a playground area for the kids are right there. If you decide that it’s time for a little rest break and stretching, then Wilmot Gateway Park is the place.

If you are like me, be sure that before you ever start your bike ride, you have your back pack with you, along with drinks and a snack for all.  Everyone will LOVE you for it!

Something else that we like to do is take our little dogs (2 boston terriers) with us.  My wife and I get a real kick out of them when they get a chance to run through the grass.  My simple “doggie style” back pack carrier works great.  Running them along side you on a leash, as you ride, can be a real hazard.

Enjoying a pub style lunch at Redhook Brewery

Enjoying a pub style lunch at Redhook Brewery…   (click pics for larger image)

Redhook Ale Brewery…At Trails End…YaY!

On the other hand, if you choose to not stop at Wilmot Gateway Park, then keep on the look out for the first bridge you see.

When you get to the first bridge past Wilmot Gateway Park, go left and then exit on the left again.  Turning right, across the overpass and…lo and behold, you will be at the Redhook Brewery on your right.

So why stop at the Redhook?  First of all, it’s a great place to get a bite to eat.  The light pub-style meals are always something to enjoy.

While you are there, how about a tour of the Brewery?   It will run you about a dollar per person (no minors though) along with 3 or perhaps 4 samples of some of the best tasting Redhook microbrews.

This refreshing liquid will come to you in a souvenir ‘tasting glass’ that will remind you of your enjoyable ride along the Burke Gilman Trail.

Inside the brewery

Inside the brewery…  (click pics for larger image)

A few of what Redhook offers.

A few refreshments of what Redhook offers…  (click pics for larger image)





Enjoyed this information?     Be sure and leave a comment below because I’d love to hear from you and I can answer questions and give comments.






Written by:  Tom McDaniel

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