Nordic walking (or ski walking) is taking off and the Human Kinetics book entitled Nordic Walking for Total Fitness by Suzanne Nottingham and Alexandra Jurasin has got it covered. For those who are unfamiliar, Nordic walking is a fitness activity that combines walking with specially designed poles to engage the upper body muscles.
Trekking (hiking with poles) and Nordic walking are two different activities that use very different poles and techniques. It may sound silly, but perhaps "walking is not just walking." The pole angle, weight, grip, and straps are different between the aforementioned modes of walking. The Nordic walking pole is designed to allow your hands to relax in order to target the larger wrapping muscles of the back. But using poles of any kind automatically stimulates your spine and all of the muscles around it, even with inefficient technique. When walking, the key postural muscles of the core and upper body are engaged.
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness outlines the health and fitness benefits and the enhancement of body posture that result from the activity. Equipment including poles, shoes, apparel, pedometers, and heart rate monitors are covered.
There are photos for every segment of the book showing technique progressions, fitness exercises, power training, and variations for balance, agility, and flexibility. Common technique errors are also reviewed as well as uphill and downhill techniques, advanced cardio training, and drills for strength training and calorie burning.
The book also includes fitness assessments, sample workouts for varying levels of interests from first timer to cross training triathletes. There are also suggestions about customizing your program. Training program recommendations are offered for building distance, fluctuating daily intensity, and rest days. If this all sounds a bit like overkill, that's because it is, particularly if you are a recreational fitness enthusiast but you need read only as much of the book as you feel is relevant to your personal situation.
I've been a Nordic Walker for a few years and found many of the claimed attributes in the book regarding posture and exercise to be true. I've always been in search of a way to decrease the amount of time spent exercising, so I was sold when I heard that using the poles increases caloric burning by 40 percent. Being a cross country skier, it is easy to quickly master Nordic walking. After a summer of Nordic walking, I noticed a marked improvement in my cross country ski poling in terms of strength and timing. It seemed that I increased the amount of forward momentum that was attributable to poling and I was able to pole stronger and longer when skiing.
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness provides a foundation for anyone, ranging from those just looking for an activity to lose weight to health aficionados interested in taking it to higher levels of fitness.
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness is available for $19.95 plus shipping from Human Kinetics at www.humankinetics.com or call 217-351-5076.