May 5, 2006 – Nordic walking is replacing the everyday neighbourhood stroll. To keep up with the fitness trend, owners of Kunitz Shoes, Darlene and Dwane Kunitz, are hosting Nordic walking clinics.
Nordic walking, a form of exercise when cross country ski-like poles are used to assist with walking, was officially launched as a fitness activity in Finland in 1997 and is quickly spreading across Europe, North America and China.
In Scandinavia and Europe, an estimated 3.5 million people do it regularly.
Mark Hopper, of Ecco Shoes in Calgary, first took part in Nordic walking in Denmark.
“It’s a huge sport in Europe,” he says.
If done correctly, Nordic walking offers a better cardiovascular workout than conventional walking. It increases the heart rate without increasing the perceived rate of exertion.
According to one Nordic walking website, the workout burns more calories than conventional walking and enhances a fat-burning workout by as much as 40 per cent.
Using the poles also works the arms, shoulders, upper chest and back muscles.
In fact, an estimated 90 per cent of the body’s skeletal muscles are used, compared to 35 per cent used in swimming and 70 per cent used in running.
Robert Kansky, a Nordic walking enthusiast who attended one of the Kunitz clinics, agrees the exercise is great for toning arms and has noticed greater definition in his upper body after getting involved with the activity.
Senior Elma Pawl, who has been Nordic walking for three years, says the exercise technique offers her greater stability and mobility.
“I can keep up with the grandkids,” she says.
Nordic walking instructor and massage therapist Heidi Hanninen, who is conducting the Kunitz clinics, says the exercise is very inclusive.
“It’s designed for everyone. It’s not meant to be competitive,” she says.
The poles range in price from $40 to $250 depending on the brand, weight, materials used, and the type of handgrips.
To take part in a clinic, call Kunitz Shoes at 438-4259.
The clinics are held on select Wednesdays, near the Kunitz store at 23 Avenue and 114 Street. Participants are advised to dress appropriately for the weather. Trial poles are provided.
For more information on Nordic walking, visit www.nordicwalking.com. or e-mail Heidi Hanninen at email@example.com.