Nordic walking lends itself to mindfulness. It taps in to our body’s natural walking rhythm, making us put the distractions and stresses of life to one side whilst we focus on how we do actually walk (for something so simple it is harder than you think).
So if you have ever been interested in mindfulness, in exploring how bringing our attention to the present moment can help us re-connect with ourselves and the world around us, I am thrilled to tell you that we will be running a Nordic walking mindfulness course next year.
Not in an amateur way – as you know that’s not our style. This course will be led by the highly respected and hugely experienced Huw Griffiths, who brings with him over 30 years’ experience working in the field of body/mind medicine for stress. Huw practices mostly in Bath and London but he is currently working in Bristol on Tuesdays and has offered to run a four-week mindfulness course for us, beginning on Tuesday 17th January. Leigh woods will be our setting. Each week we will meet at 3pm for an hour-long class combining Nordic walking and mindfulness, with hand-outs at the end to support our learning. The really tricky thing for us is that we will mostly be walking in silence! Yes this could be quite challenging but, if we’re serious about learning mindfulness we’re not going to get very far with it if we’re chatting the whole way through! Places will be limited to 16 and the four-week course will cost £66 for members, £88 for non-members. Bookings will open 9am on Tuesday 29th December. What better way to begin a new year than with a truly whole body focus.
Buying base layers
The temperature has plummeted this week. From 14 degrees C at the start to a brutal 3 degrees yesterday – with ice cold rain to go with it. Thank goodness for my merino wool base layers. Merino wool is very clever. It wicks the perspiration away from your body and absorbs body odour, so you’re never stinky (nice!). It also reacts to changes in your body temperature, so it’s better than synthetic materials at keeping you warm in the cold but preventing overheating once you’ve warmed up and got into your Nordic walking stride. That’s a pretty impressive CV and it’s why, in the winter months I generally always wear a merino baselayer under my jacket. It’s worth knowing that they come in different weights for different conditions. I find the 200g weight is perfect for our regular classes but I wear a lighter 160g weight for my Nordic walking workout classes and a heavier 260g weight if I think I’m going to be walking fairly slowly or stopping frequently.
Of course synthetic base layers are good too and are generally cheaper, even if they’re not quite as versatile as merino. And if you’re hypo allergenic bamboo base layers are a good option. Whatever type of base layer you favour, don’t forget that half zip necklines are more helpful heat regulators than crew cuts.
Nordic walking reduces stress on joints
Those of you with sore hips or knees frequently tell me how good Nordic walking is for easing the stress on your lower body. Well, here’s some research that confirms you’re right. Both our hips and our knees are better off when we’re Nordic walking not ordinary walking and on the flat there’s an astonishing 28% reduction on the shear force at the knee. It’s not just hips and knees, but the lumber spine and ankles that benefit as well. That’s something worth smiling about when you next stride out over the Downs.