Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Nordic Walking - Prozac on a Stick!

Like me, maybe you take most of your Nordic Walking sessions in your local park, or even on the streets of your home area. However, an extended walk in the great outdoors does much to revitalise your enthusiasm and motivation.

Of course, in the hills, walking is not an end in itself. The experience is holistic and provides a much deeper sense of well being than that brought about by exercise alone.

Imagine combining the invigorating benefits of Nordic Walking along with seeing big skies and being in a wonderful landscape. On our last outing my partner referred to the effect on her mood like having “Prozac on a stick” (or should it be pole?).

If you do wish to venture out into the wilds (relatively speaking) some additional thought and planning is needed, as even seemingly benign conditions can quickly turn into an unwanted struggle.

Firstly, be mindful that with Nordic Walking you expend more energy per mile than with walking without poles, even though it doesn’t really feel like it! This is one of the welcome features of the activity, but it can trap the unwary on long outings. There is nothing more tedious than having to carry your poles for the last hour because you have “over cooked” the early part of the outing.

Footwear and clothing also take on an extra dimension. This is a topic in itself and I hope to discuss this in future articles. Winter walking demands a special approach, but the following broad suggestions might be helpful for less demanding times of the year:

Spend at least as much on your shoes as you have your poles (apart from your poles, your shoes are the only thing in touch with the ground!). And do not forget about socks!

Wear lightweight functional clothing – avoid cotton like the plague (even for your base layer). Even in summer conditions, take a windproof top. In many ways, wind proofing is more important that waterproofing (although many modern garments using breathable fabrics can provide both functions).

If you prefer a sack to a bum bag, make sure you chose one suited for the action of Nordic walking. A bulky rucksack will impede movement so follow the practice of adventure racers in this respect and opt for a light, snug bag.

Don’t forget your safety items!

One last thought for now – four hours strapped to poles can give rise to soreness or blisters on your hands. Take some tape to protect any hot spots which may develop.

Malcolm Jarvis - Nordic Walker, Leeds England


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