By Ros Ingleby – Instructor with Bristol Nordic Walking.
For me the answer to this question is a resounding YES. I believe Nordic walking to be the best exercise you can do – hands down.
And I have never waivered from that conclusion in the 8 years I have been walking. Am I biased – possibly, but I haven’t found any other exercise that gives so many benefits to such a wide range of people.
How can you be so sure I hear you say? What is it about this magical sport that can transform a person’s body, mind and wellbeing? Well here’s a few reasons why I continue to be bowled over with admiration for Nordic walking, and why it’s worth striding out as often as you can.
Walking is fabulous in so many ways.
We were put on this earth to walk. It’s a completely natural movement for us and that’s why Nordic walking won’t pull muscles or tear tendons. The poles (not sticks!) ensure you walk correctly, the technique makes your walk more active and adds a powerful muscle strengthening boost. The poles also strengthen vital core muscles which means you can continue to carry your shopping, lift the kids and keep your back nice and strong. You can continue to be a fully functioning human for longer.
Walking and talking is even better.
There aren’t many sports where you can exercise AND talk, and to me that’s the holy grail. Humans are a sociable species (especially us ladies) and we just love to chat. If you can be happy on a treadmill with ear plugs in and no interaction with others that’s great, but it’s not for me. Talking while walking can keep us motivated and happy to return again and again. But there may be times when you just want to feel part of the group, be with people but in your quiet own space, and that’s ok too.
You can push yourself as hard as you like.
‘Push yourself as hard as you can!’ – ‘I want to see you sweat!’ – ‘No pain no gain!.
I’m sure you’ve heard all those phrases before when it comes to exercise, but you can happily ignore them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself because you should, but a steady, muscle building exercise like Nordic walking can get you fit and keep you strong without having to ‘beast’ yourself. I chat with beginners who are worried that they won’t be able to keep up because their confidence has been knocked by fitness trainers in the past – that does make me mad. Nordic walking is not elitist – it is the most inclusive exercise I have ever come across. But you do work harder than you realise which is another huge bonus.
It gives you head space.
For me, the older I get the more regularly I need to switch off the chattering in my brain. Little things can become big things otherwise, and I don’t want to sweat the small stuff. Nordic walking takes you away from all that and can help you refocus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard walkers saying ‘I really need this, I’ve had a terrible day!’. And it works, it really works. For me it’s powerful therapy.
It will give you a confidence boost.
If you’re toning your body, exercising your organs and getting out and about, you’re doing something really wonderful for yourself. You’re being kind to yourself and that is a real confidence boost. It’s easy to be under a cloud sometimes and forget your worth, but exercise can help pull you out of it. I know it’s a bit deep but I feel people underestimate the power of exercise on the psyche.
You’ll walk with marvellous instructors.
Ours are the best of course, but we’ve found most other Nordic walking instructors around the country are really good too. If you go away on holiday why not seek out the local group and go on a walk with them. Then casually drop in how good we are at BNW – that’d be great, thanks (wink wink).
And a big thanks to you, our fantastic walkers.
We can’t believe how friendly and welcoming our club is, and that’s really down to you. Your support and kindness towards other walkers means newcomers feel happy to join on their own, and that is a wonderful thing. There’s no need to be competitive here (unless you want to) as we’re all here for the same reasons. It’s big love in!
So I may have got a little emotional there, but I enjoyed writing it – thanks for indulging me.
See you on a walk soon and please make sure you’re looking after yourself.
You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you’re looking for our advice on best walking kit here’s our recommendations: