There’s a whole bunch of reasons why most of us come Nordic walking, but maintaining and increasing aerobic fitness is probably one of them. This gives us the puff to climb stairs and hills and generally keep up with people younger than us. Also the fitter our heart and lungs, the more efficient our circulation and cardiovascular system is in general. This helps with weight loss and lowers our risk of all sorts of other health conditions – heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and now strokes (see last week’s blog) to name a few. It’s something I talk about quite a lot because it’s so important. And amazingly simple.
But don’t get caught up in the belief that it’s all about distance - this just isn’t the case. Aerobic fitness has three components:
The more frequently you come walking or challenge your heart and lungs in some other way, the fitter you will become. The other two factors – duration and intensity – are interchangeable. Short sharp bursts of high intensity intervals (often referred to as HIIT) are equally as important as longer steadier walks. Mixing things up is the key as it keeps your body guessing and having to adapt. It is why we vary the fitness component in our Nordic walking classes. Sometimes we alternate between fast walking and recovery, sometimes we go for hills, sometimes we go for distance (stamina).
So don’t get caught up in the distance you’ve walked in any particular class. Whilst it might contribute to your step count, it isn’t the benchmark for your fitness.