Once again we have a major newspaper leading its weekend section with the benefits of walking; for your brain, your heart and your mood. I’ve written frequently about all these benefits, empirically endorsed time and again by you. But it’s good to see the message taken to a wider audience. Here are some direct quotes*:
- “the simple act of walking will make you healthier and add years to your life.”
- “Walking is just as good as running for reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol and for fighting heart disease. Some experts say it is even better.”
- “the single most important thing you can do to improve your longevity is to move more – and that the best way to do that is to walk.”
- “Walking can help to protect against type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression, memory loss and even Alzheimer’s.”
- “A regular walk three times a week has been shown to increase the size of the brain regions linked to planning and memory over the course of a year. Thus it helps to slow the brain shrinkage and weakening mental skills that occur as we age.”
- “The mental benefits of walking are phenomenal.”
- “There is so much proof that walking outdoors improves mood and helps alleviate mild depression by helping to balance brain chemicals.”
These statements are supported by research, much of which I’ve referred to in previous blogs. I was especially fascinated by the Department of Transport survey showing that the average person now walks 181 miles per year – less than half a mile a day and a drop of 63 miles since 1986.
When you are starting out on your fitness journey, even a short walk on the flat will make a difference. To continue to increase fitness levels, you need to ensure that you keep mixing things up. Short bursts of speed, a few hills, some additional exercises thrown in and longer walks every now and then are all great ways to do this. It almost sounds like the script for the range of Nordic walking classes that we offer… Don’t think that this is a happy accident. Our aim at Bristol Nordic Walking is to offer you the highest quality walking fitness classes possible. Classes that give you the tools to better understand how to walk well, increase your heart health, functional strength, flexibility and (most importantly) mood. As our lovely instructor Patsy said the other day, “I haven’t met anyone who has regretted making time in their day for Nordic walking – or wishing afterwards that they hadn’t been. We all notice how much healthier we feel, both in mind and body, and we certainly have fewer colds despite walking through all weather conditions!”.
How to Nordic walk: Step 1 – Posture
I’ve written a fair amount about the Nordic walking technique and have posted numerous articles about posture in particular. Good posture is the foundation on which everything else is built. I have a seven-point checklist that I run through before I start Nordic walking. It goes like this:
- Lengthen my spine
- Lift the weight of my head off my shoulders (so to speak)
- Chin level
- Shoulders wide
- Tummy engaged (but not over tightened)
- Weight evenly centred over my feet
- Feet ‘connected’ to the ground, toes splayed.
I’ve recorded it too, so if you have two minutes and don’t get distracted by my dog, the rain storm half way through or my son’s foot nudging into camera, here it is: INWA Step 1 Posture.
* The Times (Peta Bee) Saturday 24th September 2016