Nordic Walking is the fastest growing exercise activity in the world, enjoyed by more than 10 million people of all ages and backgrounds. We asked Colwick parkrunner Louise Third MBE, a Nordic Walker and breast cancer survivor who recently joined the 100 Club, to tell us why this form of exercise is a much more vigorous workout than normal walking and how to get involved.
Nordic Walking is a form of exercise which uses two specially-designed poles, similar to ski poles, to propel the walker forward. I describe it as ‘four-wheeled drive’ walking. It is the fastest-growing exercise activity in the world. The main difference between normal walking and Nordic Walking is the speed – Nordic Walking is much faster. Depending on the person’s fitness or goals, a Nordic Walker will walk faster because of the acceleration provided by the poles and the strength of the whole upper body. The action is like cross-country skiing.
It gets you fitter because Nordic Walking doesn’t feel like hard work so you’ll be happy to walk further and for longer.
I got involved In Nordic Walking in 2011. I had heard British Nordic Walking instructor Catherine Hughes give a talk and was intrigued because I’m not a fan of running and was looking for something new. I asked my family for Nordic Walking poles that Christmas, joined Catherine’s classes in Nottingham and started to walk on my own or with friends.
The following year Catherine approached parkrun to ask if Nordic Walkers were able to take part. We were encouraged by the volunteers at Colwick parkrun and a group of us turned up to have a go. We were welcomed from the start and have always felt part of the whole community. I don’t enjoy running so all of my parkruns have been as a Nordic Walker.
Nordic Walking is a great full-body workout because you:
Like regular walking, it can be very sociable as you chat with fellow walkers – unless you are trying for a PB in which case you agree not to chat!
Personally, parkrun provides me with regular and disciplined weekly exercise. I have a Nordic Walking buddy, Angie Burrows, who was actually the first of us to join the parkrun 100 Club. If I don’t feel like turning out, Angie is there to encourage me to grab my poles and face the rain. This was especially important when I was recovering from breast cancer treatment in 2013 and used Nordic Walking, and parkrun in particular, for physical and mental rehabilitation. Some days we just managed 3k but at least I was there. So, I know I’ve turned out for more than 100 parkruns, just not completed each outing like everyone else!
For anybody reading this who wants to find out more information about Nordic Walking or get involved, the best place to start is the British Nordic Walking website that lists classes by region.
You can start by borrowing poles from your instructor until you are ready to invest in your own. You don’t need expensive kit – just good walking shoes or boots and comfortable (weatherproof) clothing.
I want to say a massive thank you to all those Colwick parkrunners who have dutifully stayed a few extra minutes to see us over the line. We do come in a bit later than many but we appreciate the wonderful applause as we cross the line.
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