Health girl posing with nordic walking poles on a path in a forest with a lot of leaveson the ground during the fall

Published on November 26, 2015 | by Nicole McIntyre     Photography by Curtis Nelson

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Nordic pole walking: what is it?

“Nordic walking poles are not assistive devices, but instead provide a workout that is superior to walking and provides many health benefits,” said Nordixx President Greg Bellamy.

Walking with poles mimics ones natural arm movement and works 90 per cent of the body in comparison to 50 per cent when walking without poles. Thirty minutes of Nordic pole walking is also equal to 55 minutes of regular walking. It burns 30-45 per cent more calories.

Bellamy said it increases cardio but doesn’t make you sweat. Director of Health Communication at Urban Poling Dr. Agnes Coutinho said Nordic walkers reported feeling like they were working less than they actually were.

Bellamy said getting awareness out about this low impact yet intense exercise is difficult.

“People think the pole is a cane so they don’t need to hear about it and they don’t care to come to meetings,” said Bellamy.

Bellamy hosted a talk on Nordic Pole Walking at a healthy living event at the Rexdale Community Hub on Nov. 13. He is the president of Nordixx Pole Walking Canada Inc., a company that endorses the sport, sells equipment, and educates people on the health benefits of the exercise.

Dr. Countinho advocates for Urban Poling and she’s also a kinesiology professor at Humber College. Bellamy and Dr. Coutinho are experts on pole walking and are both trying to spread awareness on its health benefits.

“I think once people hear about the health benefits of pole walking, it is going to become a more popular activity,” said Dr. Coutinho.

Studies show that, compared to walking without poles, Nordic walking speeds up weight loss, lowers blood pressure, improves blood cholesterol levels, relieves pain, protects bones, promotes good posture, prevents and treats diabetes and more.

Dr. Coutinho said Nordic walking has all these health benefits due to the full body movement of the exercise and the fact that it does cardio and strength training at the same time.

Pole walking is for people of all ages. It can be done during any season and in any place. To get started, Dr. Countinho suggests that people with health problems check with their doctors first, and then anybody can check online for local walking groups. The walking poles cost around 70 dollars.

“Sometimes people are scared to exercise but in walking class, people participate and the adherence is high: people don’t drop out because it’s fun,” said Dr. Countinho. “The thing about it is, once people try it, they get hooked,” she added.

Dr. Coutinho has brought pole walking to Humber College’s north campus in the past and is now working towards establishing a permanent weekly walking group at the school.

Bellamy teaches a pole walking group twice a week at the Rexdale Community Health Centre.

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