Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I'm a 'Senior' in my Eighties is it safe for me to take up Nordic Walking?

I have received requests asking for more information that would be of specific interest to 'Senior' Nordic Walkers. 'Seniors' s an area that I happen to be very interested in. I spent 6 years specialising as a fitness trainer for seniors, so rest assured I will be making relevent postings in future.

Just for now I am reproducing an article that has previously appeared in Nordic Walking News:

Q. I'm a 'Senior' in my Eighties is it safe for me to take up Nordic Walking?

The simple answer to this question is that there is no upper or lower age limit for Nordic Walking. Last week I received an email from a gentleman of 87 who has recently started Nordic walking and I have heard of people who participate in their 90's.

If you can walk, then you can Nordic Walk! If you happen to have an illness or disability that affects your ability to walk, in all likelyhood Nordic Walking poles will be a godsend to you.

What I will say is that regardless of your age, if you are not used to taking regular exercise or if you have a pre-existing medical condition that may be adversely affected by taking exercise or you have an injury or are pregnant or you have any concerns with regards to your physical health and the suitability of exercise for you, then you should always seek the advice of your medical practitioner before participating.

The other bit of advice I always give whatever your age, is to get proper training from a qualified Nordic Walking Instructor.

Beginners frequently tell me that what I teach them they could have never worked out for themselves ! Even people who have previously tried to 'work it out for themselves' find that when they come to have a lesson, they are surprised by how much they learn and how much more benefit and enjoyment they are able to experience from their Nordic Walking.

To find an instructor check out www.nordicwalking.com and then follow the link to the website for the country where you live.

If you are in the UK go to www.nordicwalking.co.uk

If you are in the USA also check out www.anwa.com

Whether you have access to an instructor or not, I highly recommend the DVD / Video - Nordic Walking - The Ultimate Fitness Experience. This is a 40 minute long video produced by Bernd Zimmermann as is available from: www.nordicwalkingonline.com

If you make enquiries via any of these websites please mention my name (David Downer) and Nordic Walking News.

Note: Please help the guys at nordicwalkingonline track the source of their enquiries by entering my name and Nordic Walking News in the special instruction box on the order form if you make a purchase from their website.

It is a fact that Nordic Walking poles reduce the stress on joints such as knees, hips and ankles and they also give you a greater feeling of stability and security if you happen to suffer from balance problems. You will also find that walking uphill is so much more easier and the poles are great for improving posture.

For many 'Seniors' Nordic Walking poles can literally give them a new lease of life and in some cases even help them regain their independence. Have a good look around the internet at the many websites from around the world and you will find testimonials to back this up.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Is this the worlds first Nordic Walking statue ?



Anybody for 'Sports Level' Training ?


It's not how hard you fall..

It's how high you bounce..

I was never told not to climb on the furniture...honest :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Do We Need a New 'Independent' International Association for Nordic Walking ?

This posting has been moved to a new Blog set up specifically for this topic. Please visit:


You are welcome to reply to the posting by email to: david.bh13@virgin.net

Note: My original posting will appear at the bottom of the new Blog page. Postings above this one are replies from readers that have been emailed to me.

Thank you

David (Editor)


How Hard Should I Exercise ?

The Golden Rule:

"Always listen to your body - It tends to know best ! Ignore your body and suffer the consequences".

I promote 3 levels of Nordic Walking:

Level 1: Health:
Level 2: Fitness
Level 3: Sport

Level 1: Health walkers are by far the largest user group. These are people who are not interested in training, racing, running, bounding etc - They just want to enjoy the general health benefits associated with walking with their poles. It is to Health Level walkers that this posting will be of particular interest.

So, for all you 'Health level' people out there, here is a simple way to monitor your walking intensity.

Talk Test

As a Health Level Nordic walker - If you can hold a conversation without struggling for breath then fine. This is referred to as a 'positive talk test' - This is good. If you can't, or are struggling to hold a conversation then this is referred to as a 'negative talk test' - This is not good. If you are struggling to talk then your body is struggling - Remember the 'Golden Rule' ?

"Always listen to your body - It tends to know best ! Ignore your body and suffer the consequences".

As you become fitter you will find that it becomes easier to talk for longer and you will find you can walk harder / faster and still be able to talk.

In addition to the 'Talk Test' use this simplified 'scale of perceived exertion' (effort):

Level of Effort

1) Very Easy
2) Fairly Easy
3) Moderate
4) Slightly Hard
5) Hard

As a Health Level walker when you start out on a walk, walk for a while at level 1 (very easy). After a while pick up the pace a little to level 2 (fairly easy) before upping again to level 3 (moderate).

For health benefits, newcomers to exercise should 'work towards' being able to sustain a 'moderate' walking pace for 30 minutes, 5 times a week . However, if walking for 30 minutes is too much for you, don't worry. Instead break this down to 3 x 10 minute walks or 2 x 15 minute walks.

* Remember - "Always listen to your body" ! Eg - If it is telling you to rest - then rest !

Generally speaking and until your fitness levels are up, as a Health Level walker I would not advise going above level 4 (slightly hard) and to spend most of your time at no higher than level 3 (moderate).

Note: This will often involve careful route choice. If your fitness level is currently low please don't try and walk up a gradient such as 'Heart Attack Hill' (see previous posting), as on a scale of 1 - 5 you will probably be 'off the scale' at 10+ !

So in summary; as a 'Health Level' walker use both the 'Talk Test' and the 'Scale of Perceived Exertion' to ensure you are walking at a safe and effective intensity.

Note: 'Scale of Perceived Exertion' is personal to the individual. If you are not used to exercise and you tried to keep up with me at my 'Level 1' (very easy), it might be your 'Level 5' (Hard)

One final Tip:

Use the 'Scale of Enjoyment'

Level of Enjoyment

1) Very Unpleasant
2) Unpleasant
3) Neutral
4) Enjoyable
5) Very Enjoyable

You should be looking to score enjoyment at level; 4 or 5. If this is not happening it is important to identify the reason why and put a plan in place to remedy this. If you continue to score low in enjoyment you will quit. If you are working with a instructor / coach, please seek their professional advice if you are not then I would recommend that you consult with one.

Note: in addition to being an INWA Qualified Nordic Walking Instructor, David has been a qualified exercise / sports professional for nearly 25 years. He is also a qualified Life Coach.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Testimonial - I first heard about Nordic Walking through 'Health & Fitness' magazine last month

Dear David,

Firstly I would like to say thank you for your weblog and website... it has been very helpful and a pleasure to read.

I first heard about Nordic Walking through 'Health & Fitness' magazine last month. I booked myself on a workshop with Francis Mitchell last Saturday. I Really enjoyed it and I bought some poles afterwards. I've now walked through the streets of Ealing twice with my poles at my side.

I booked myself on the INWA Instructor Training Course in September with Nordic Walking UK .

Thanks again.... look forward for the next weblog update.

Esther Ratchford
Ealing, London, UK.

PS. Re: 'Lazy Arm' - Blog Posting... It's so true, my left arm keep slipping or doesn't feel like it is working as much as the right arm. However I will work on that and try out your tip.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Ask David - Lazy Arm

Whilst I was lying on the beach today (tough job I know but someone's got to do it :-) I was talking to a couple who had recently been introduced to Nordic Walking whilst on holiday in Germany (where it's huge). The lady was experiencing a common problem for newcomers to Nordic Walking, that of the 'lazy arm'. She asked for my advice.

'Lazy arm' simply means that sometimes one arm doesn't work as well as the other arm during the poling action. You tend to find that you 'miss pole' or one pole drags a little.

If you have experienced this you will have probably noticed that if you write with your right hand, then it is the left arm that is 'lazy' and vice versa.

To overcome this problem simply Nordic Walk for a while using only the 'lazy' arm. Practice this at regular intervals and you will find that before too long you will have overcome the problem.


Ask David - Advice On Buying Nordic Walking Poles

I receive many questions asking me for help re buying Nordic Walking Poles.

Questions include: Which is better - Fixed length or adjustable? Can I recommend a good cheap pole? Which manufacturers poles are best? Where can I buy poles online etc.

I refer people to an article I wrote on this Blog on 15th July (recently updated). If you haven't read it take a look, it should help answer your questions.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Nordic Walking Trail Events

This notice may be of interest to UK or mainland Europe subscribers

The Outdoor Warehouse recently organised a trail race with a Nordic Walking category in the Lake District (UK). You may have read about it in Nordic Walking News?

They have now fixed up 3 more events with Nordic Walkers categories. The next one is:

18th September 2005 - Coniston Trail 14km (8.5 miles)

For more details visit:


Sunday, August 14, 2005


Research Shows Nordic Walking Can Reduce Neck & Shoulder Pain

Claim: Nordic Walking can reduce neck and shoulder pain

Research: Finnish study (Antitila et al. 1999).

Group: 55 female office workers.

Activity: Nordic Pole Walking using Exel poles, compared with regular walking training (without poles).

The EMG measurement showed that electrical activities of the muscles in the upper body (neck, shoulder, upper back) were significantly higher when walking with poles. Pole walking reduced neck and shoulder symptoms and subjective feeling of pain in the pole walking group. Mobility in the area of the back also increased.

Note: EMG = Electromyography

Electromyography is a test that assesses muscular health and activity and that of the nerves controlling the muscle.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


First Nordic Walking Category in a U.S. Marathon (26.2 miles)

As someone who has 'run' the classic marathon distance (26.2 miles) on four occasions, including 3 Londons, I always say that taking part in a classic marathon is something that everyone should have the opportunity to try at least once in their life.

It's a very special feeling to cross that finish line and be able to say you have completed the classic distance. The good news is that Marathons are no longer the exclusive domain of runners and joggers. Over recent years a growing number of entries have come from people who have no intention of running or jogging, their intention is to simply 'walk' the distance.

On Oct 9th 2005, in Portland, Oregan, USA, Nordic Walkers have the opportunity to take part in a classic marathon event (26.2 miles) that includes (for the first time in the US) an 'official' Nordic Walking catogory !

My thanks to Gene Verel from 'Leki USA' for the following information:

Nordic Walking will make its marathon debut Oct. 9, 2005 at the Portland Marathon in Portland, Oregan with Nordic Walking pole manufacturer Leki (USA) an official sponsor of the new category.

The Portland Marathon already ranks among the most walker-friendly marathons in the United States with 28 percent of last year's finishers being walkers.

The 7 a.m. starting gun of the 34th running of the Portland Marathon will kick off the first event in the country to support walkers using Nordic Walking poles.

"Our company is honored to partner with a high-profile event like the Portland Marathon, which attracts a high concentration of dedicated walkers," said LEKI USA vice president Greg Wozer. "This is the perfect venue to introduce Nordic Walking to a large number of people."

The Portland Marathon, consistently ranked among the country's top marathons, prides itself on being a people's event, which does not pay prize or appearance money to elite competitors. Last year, the Portland Marathon raised more then $2 million for charity.

Walkers make up a growing segment of the Portland entrants. In 1989, only about 5 percent of participants - 300 of 5,700 were walkers. Last year, 2,412 of 8,530 finishers were walkers.

"Walkers are the future," Les Smith, race director of the Portland Marathon, told Runner's World magazine in Nov. 2004. "It's not a marathon anymore; it's a multifaceted event. And the people who do our races are not just runners. They're participants. We welcome them."

Nordic Walking News Editor - David Downer says...

"Your current level of fitness and the distances you are able to walk right now will dictate whether you have enough preparation time left to take part in this years event.

Having an exercise goal to aim for is an excellent thing to have. Even if this years event (just over 8 weeks away) does not give you enough time to properly prepare and train, a great goal would be to set your heart on taking part in the 2006 event.

Remember - If you can walk you can Nordic Walk and if you can walk 1 mile with enough practice and proper training a goal of walking a 26.2 mile marathon in over a years time is an achievable goal for so many people".

Note: If you are not used to exercising you are advised to consult with your Physician before you start. If you are planning to take part in a marathon you should follow a suitable training program.

For more details of the Portland Marathon contact:
Gene Elizabeth Verel
800-255-9982 x17

Monday, August 08, 2005


Testimonial - Nordic Walking In The Lofoten Islands, Norway

My thanks to Jim & Pam Earnshaw for the following article. I introduced Jim and Pam to Nordic Walking when they booked a private workshop with me recently.

"We have been Nordic Walking in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. It was quite difficult walking terrain but the poles were a great success both on and off track.

The poles were very useful as there was a lot of tumbled rock to scramble over. They were perfectly strong enough for use as balancing aids on some quite exposed pieces. We did some steep uphill climbs and found a double poling technique useful eg one pole push for every two steps.

We will soon be starting 'on road' training for the cross country ski season. The poles have been very good for both of us.

Note: The poles travelled very well in a cardboard pipe, there was absolutlely no trouble".

Jim and Pam Earnshaw
Bridgewater, Somerset, UK

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Nordic Walking Couple Ditch Wedding List For Malawi Aid

Firstly I would like to extend my congratulations to Nordic Walking News subscribers David Taylor and Heather Fraser who are to marry on August 13th.

I had the pleasure of meeting David who lives in County Durham on the North East of England and Heather who lives in Salisbury in the South of England when together they attended one of my Nordic Walking workshops earlier this year.

David and Heather are asking their wedding guests to help bring water to an African village instead of buying them wedding presents. They want to raise £2,000 to drill a borehole in the Sauya in Malawi.

They said: "Our friend Khiko and his wife Grace recently went back to his village and were appalled at the devastation, Aids has ravaged the area leaving thousands of orphans. We were so moved on hearing of their plight that we wanted to help. In the UK £2,000 (approx $3,600 US) isn't that much, but to Malawi it is more like £2m (approx $3,600,00 US).

To read the full article featuring David and Heather's story visit:


If you would be interested in helping David and Heather reach their target of raising $2,000 (approx $3,600), please let me know and I will pass them your name and email address.

Email me at: david.bh13@virgin.net

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Great Wall of China Sponsored Trek

Thanks to Nordic Walking News subscriber David Ward for the following article:

Having decided to aid Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK with a sponsored trek along the Great Wall of China, I decided to get involved in improving my overall health and walking endurance.

I have found in Nordic Walking the perfect way to not only enjoy the great country side around where I live but also sharpen up my act in good time for the event in October.

I have trekked more then 35 kms over the last week. I have watched the sun set full in the west, and on the return leg of my route watched the moon rising over the foothill of the Pyrenees before I reached home.

I must admit I was a little uncertain how I would feel after the first week - would I want to go on, or find reasons not to push my self. I know the answer already.

This morning as a part of my 'polar on-line training program' ( a great tool), I had to cover 8kms across country, maybe not that much for some, but for me it felt far enough for the last trek of a first week.

75 days to go to my trek in China and I have the feeling I will be ready for it.

David Ward
South West France

If anyone would like to consider sponsoring David check out his web page (Ed.)



The History of Nordic Walking

The origin of ‘Nordic Walking’ dates back to the early part of the 20th century, when cross country skiers used their ski poles for summer ‘snow free’ training.

It wasn’t until the later part of the 20th century that the concept of fitness walking with specially designed poles was developed as a method of exercise in its own right.

In 1985 Tom Rutlin a cross-country skier and certified ski coach from the USA, experimented by adding rubber tips to his ski poles. The idea was to use a cross-country ski polling action to engage the muscles of the upper body, whilst fitness walking or running on an asphalt surface.

The term ‘Nordic Walking ‘came into being in 1997 when a Finnish ski equipment manufacturer in co-operation with athletes and sports medicine experts, developed a fitness walking pole with an innovative wrist strap system.

The wrist strap system is key to the ‘Nordic Walking’ technique and allows the walker to access the full range of associated physical and health related benefits.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Congratulations - Debi Splaine

Nordic Walking News subscriber Debi Splaine from Long Island, New York contacted me a few months ago asking if I knew how she could find an Instructor in her part of the world. As a result Debi took a lesson with INWA instructor Chad Cuto in Stowe, Vermont (see testimonial further down page).

I am delighted to say that Debi has since gone on to qualify as an INWA level 2 Instructor - So congratulations and well done Debi !

Interested in training as an instructor ? Here are a couple of organisations to contact:

The American Nordic Walking Association (ANWA) - Next course taking place in LA on August 20th - 21st. For details go to:


The International Nordic Walking Association (INWA). You can contact the branch in your country via:


Nordic Walking UK have two instructor training weekends coming up - August 6th - 7th and September 24th - 25th.

For more details contact Martin Christie, Education Director of Nordic Walking UK, on + 44 (0)20 8211 3512 or visit www.nordicwalking.co.uk

Please mention that you have been referred by David at Nordic Walking News when you make any enquiries - Thankyou.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?