Saturday, November 12, 2005


Anyone for 1800 Abdominal Crunches / Sit Ups or 900 Press-Ups in 15 - 20 minutes ?

Can you imagine doing 1800 Crunches / Sit Ups or 900 Press-Ups in 15 - 20 minutes ?

That' s one of the questions I ask my clients when they attend my Nordic Walking Workshops. It always results in bemused looks and a few good laughs...

Ok - Let me explain.

Lets take the average number of steps per mile that we walk as being 1800 (some people will take more and others less).

So that's 900 steps with the right foot and 900 steps with the left foot for every mile we walk. OK - Now lets pick up our Nordic Walking poles; now that's 900 times that we pole with our right arm and 900 with the left arm for every mile we walk (Hey - We've changed from biped to quadriped!)...

Take this a stage further that's 900 times we contract our right tricep (muscle on the rear of the upper arms - you know the one ladies ? Gents too ?) and 900 we contract our left tricep - For every mile we walk.

Now if we take between 15 - 20 minutes to walk a mile, that means we contract each tricep 900 times every 15 to 20 minutes !

Another way to contract each triceps 900 times is to do 900 press-ups (see photo) ! ... Any takers for 900 press-ups in 15 - 20 minutes ? - Now don't all rush !

We also contact our abdominal muscles 1800 for every mile we Nordic Walk. The abdominals include our 'transverse abdominus', that's the muscle lying behind the 'rectus abdominus' (the one that looks like a 'six pack' on 'body builders' !). It's the transverse abdominus that we must engage (by drawing navel to spine) to give us 'core stability'.

Note: Core stability is vital to support and protect the 'lumbar spine' (lower back) which you should aim to maintain in a 'neutral postion' (natural arch) whenever possible eg do not 'slump' when you are seated and stand tall (lift ribs from hips when standing or walking).

Now another way to contract our abdominal muscles 1800 times (in 15 - 20 minutes) would be to perform 1800 'abdominal crunches' (see photo) or 'sit ups' - Again any takers ?

So do you start to see the huge benefits you experience every time you go for a Nordic Walk.... and that' s just on the 'muscle front'.

Note: Why is having strong toned muscles so important ? Well - If the muscles that support our spine lose strength and weaken our spine starts to collapse and we gradually start returning towards the foetal position (observe some elderly people). If our neck muscles are week we cannot hold our head up (ditto - some elderly people). If our quads (muscles on front of the thigh) are weak we will walk with bent knees (gravity pulls us down and we again move further towards the foetal position) - Get the picture ?

Question - Apart from working out at the gym or doing exercises such as abdominal crunches / sit ups and press-ups at home - How else are you going to maintain (let alone improve) the strength in your upper body muscles ? How else apart from Nordic Walking of course.

Remember this - I have just referred in this posting to the triceps and the abdominals - Don't forget Nordic Walking is targeting 90% of your body's muscles. There are approximately 650 named muscles in the human body, so that means Nordic Walking targets something like 580 different muscles !

However - Unlike working out in a gym or doing high intensity forms of exercise, Nordic Walking exercises our muscles in a gentle, controlled and rythmic way and they are all working together in synergy just like the wonderfully honed machine that the human body is.

Nordic Walking is kind to the body in every way but the benefits are huge.

Remember this too - You are getting all those benefits from one single form of exercise - WOW ! AND you are getting both cardio-vascular (heart / lung) benefits as well as muscle strengthening, toning and conditioning benefits too - ALL FROM ONE SINGLE EXERCISE !!!

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