Nordic Walking

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     I’ve gotten a few inquires about my Nordic Walking enterprise so I thought I’d give you the 4-1-1 on what this is all about. Nordic Walking started in Finland in the mid-1990’s. Their cross country skiers needed a way to keep in shape during the summer season. They married poles with dry land walking – BINGO a sport was born. It’s more of a fitness routine than a sport.

     Think of the gym equipment called the Nordic Track. Big and klunky by today’s standards, it mimics cross country skiing with board slats that move along with arm pulls to replicate the cross country skiing moves. These machines have pretty well disappeared from gyms to be replaced with elliptical trainers. They accomplish the same movements. The point is to use your upper body as well as your legs. Nordic Walking is merely using lightweight (8 oz each) ski-type poles to push off the ground as you move forward. Triceps, lats and core all get involved. 90% of your muscles are used instead of just 70% in normal walking. The poles are  not the same as trekking or hiking poles. I promote using the latter for hard core trips up and down hills of significant size. Nordic Walking is mostly done in parks or in neighborhoods as a fitness routine. Now for the facts.

     The Cooper Aerobics Institute in Dallas has evaluated them in controlled tests with regular walkers and NW users. Turns out NW users burned up to 46% (20% average) more calories, their heart rate went up about 10% and their oxygen intake went up 20% – all with no extra perceived extra effort. Wow. It’s estimated that 8 million Europeans do NW. You will see groups of 10 going around parks or inside malls (with rubber tips over the carbide steel ones). It is still in its infancy in the USA. I introduced the NW program onboard Crystal Cruises 2 ships. We offer it complementary to guests. Close to 1,000 have been exposed to the activity and many have purchased their own. It is not an “old person’s” activity, but I think there is a bias to using poles to walk in the US. But I saw the same thing 20 years ago with hiking poles in the Sierra. Now they are mainstream aids. Oh, we Americans know it all, don’t we?? If you are interested in learning more, I can recommend Claire Walter’s website/blog. She keeps us abreast of happenings, expos and developments in NW. You can find her <HERE> – you gotta check out my “formal” photo.  I can also recommend her book, Nordic Walking: The Complete Guide to Health, Fitness and Fun. Try it out!!

     Snow’s coming…5,000 ft level. Hwy 120 into the park is over 6,000 ft. You MUST have chains in your car to enter Yosemite during the winter. Highway 108 (Sonora Pass) is closed at Kennedy Meadows. Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) is closed at Crane Flat. Highway 4 (Ebbetts Pass) is closed shortly after the Mt. Reba turnoff. Highway 88 (Carson Pass) is open with no restrictions.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile.” – English Proverb

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – http://Nordic Walking 


2 Responses to “Nordic Walking”

  1. Kathy Says:

    For those of us who might be interested in this “off season” can you use your treking poles and get some kind of walking tip to put on them?

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Yes and yes.

      The whole deal with Nordic Walking is the push off maneuver when the poles are by your side. Your triceps will glow after a while. This is not an intense exercise – but rather consistency is the key. A little at a time adds up. Your hiking poles can do this fine. You can buy rubber tips to put over the carbide steel ones. Like all good things, Nordic Walking poles are optimized for their function. Think of this analogy – Hiking poles are to Mt. bikes as NW poles are to Road bikes. Can you ride a on the streets? Yes, but the low pressure, knobby tires and upright position will not be the best. Similarly, you could ride a road bike in the mountains, but the high pressure skinny tines and dropped bars would not make for a fun ride. Each is optimized for its purpose. NW poles are lighter than hiking poles and the straps are way different. It’s very hard to find NW poles in the US. REI and other outfitters do not carry them. Contact me if interested in getting a pair for yourself. They are not cheap – but will last forever. Be wary of $18 pairs from the big box stores. They come in adjustable lengths. I prefer the 3-section Traveller poles for easy packing.

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