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Why is Nordic Walking One of the Best Senior Exercises?

A senior couple carries their walking poles.

Sometimes all you need is a little support — and that’s exactly what Nordic walking has to offer.

Nordic walking takes the pressure off of your knees, hips, and backs, allowing you to walk both faster and further while feeling lighter on your feet. 

“For people with joint injuries in their lower bodies or lower back, trekking poles can help absorb some of the landing impact with each step, particularly when going downhill,” said exercise physiologist and certified Nordic walking instructor Martica Heaner in an article for the Arthritis Foundation.

Nordic walking can help anybody get a better workout — and it’s an especially great senior exercise. 

From Scandinavia to Senior Walking

Using poles for balance is nothing new; however, in 1996, a man named Tuomo Jantunen from Scandinavia recognized that walking with poles was an idea that could be beneficial to many people. He joined forces with a Finnish company called Excel to create the perfect walking poles.

After more than two dozen prototypes, Jantunen and his team unveiled the first Nordic walking poles in 1997. While it wasn’t marketed specifically as a senior exercise, Nordic walking was quickly embraced by the senior walking community.

Nordic walking gained even more attention when Hollywood legend Jamie Lee Curtis released an Instagram post that went viral in which she credited Nordic walking for getting her back on track after the holidays. 

Getting Started With Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is the same as regular walking except with specially designed poles and a few small modifications. 

Nordic walking poles have feet with a slight forward angle and straps that allow for a more relaxed grip. They also come with an attachment that can be put on the feet so the poles can be used on hard surfaces.

Once you have your poles, simply walk normally while leaning forward just a bit, making sure to keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Strike the ground with your heel, then roll forward to the balls of your feet. Keep in mind that your stride should be a bit longer than usual and make sure to keep a light grip on your poles to keep tension out of the upper body. 

Want to see Nordic walking in action? Check out this two-and-a-half minute video by AARP illustrating the proper technique. 

The Perfect Nordic Walking Poles

While you can spend more than $200 on Nordic walking poles, it is possible to find a quality pair of poles for around $50.

Poles come in both one-piece and adjustable models — and both have their benefits. 

The best feature of adjustable poles is that they are collapsible, which makes them easy to pack in luggage or stash in a backpack. (Here’s a nice pair to check out by Montem.) one-piece walking poles — like these by industry pioneer Excel — are purchased based on your height. 

Keep in mind that Poles are generally made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are heavier and more rigid, which means they have less give. Carbon fiber poles, on the other hand, are typically more expensive but also lighter and more flexible, which makes them both more durable and more comfortable for senior walking. 

The Many Benefits of Nordic Walking

We already mentioned how Nordic walking is easier on joints, but advocates claim there are many other possible benefits as well, including improved balance, posture, heart health, and mood. Here’s a complete rundown by the American Nordic Walking Association.

The big picture is that, by taking pressure off of joints, Nordic walking makes it easier to be more active and stay fit. The result is that you just might find yourself taking more frequent hikes or strolls through your neighborhood — and the advantages of time spent outdoors are well known.

Staying Active at Winchester Gardens

Set on 37 beautiful acres in Maplewood, New Jersey, Winchester Gardens is a premier active senior living community. Whether you hit the indoor heated swimming pool, take a yoga class, or use your Nordic walking poles to enjoy the walking paths, there are plenty of ways to stay active and healthy. Contact us today to schedule a visit — and experience for yourself everything that Winchester Gardens has to offer.

Resources to help you make your move.

Winchester gardens outdoor path in daytime

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