The obvious question upon spotting someone walking along with poles in their hands – for those who are not aware that enthusiasts claim it burns 46 per cent more calories than normal walking – is why?
“We do get funny looks when we’re out walking,” admits Helen Beckley, 32. “Safety in numbers – we’re all looking mad together, and we enjoy it, so we don’t mind. But if I got a dirham for every time someone passing me said: ‘Oh, you’ve forgotten the snow,’ I’d be very rich!”
Beckley became the UAE’s first qualified Nordic Walking instructor two years ago and works with ProActive sports company, which runs twice-weekly Nordic Walking sessions on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.
“It originated from cross-country skiing and it’s what cross-country skiers do in the off-season,” she says, “so people associate it with snow.”
Nordic Walking is not to be confused with trekking, hill walking or trail running, which use different poles and techniques. Nordic walking poles are gripped and released so as to give the upper-body muscles a workout at the same time as the legs.
“The poles help to propel the walker along,” explains Beckley. “It means you work harder than usual, yet the support given by the poles makes it feel easier.”
Beckley alternates her routes each week and varies the focus of the sessions too.
“Sometimes we’ll find some slopes – hills would probably be a bit of an exaggeration – to go up and down. I always try to include a bit of strength work as well so we might stop and do some press-ups or triceps dips on the benches en route.”
In Dubai, British expatriate Joanna Macdonald, 53, leads groups pole-walking – or “soul walking” as she likes to call it. Whereas Beckley’s groups are run primarily as a way for people to get fit, Macdonald set up Keenfit Middle East in Dubai seven years ago.
“Previously, I was head of corporate affairs for HSBC and then Barclays, I had two young children and I worked 24/7. The miracles of life were passing me by,” she recalls. “I had an epiphany, and decided to change my priorities. Running Keenfit walking groups was a wonderful way to meet people again. When you’re walking, you let go and talk about things. People keep their eyes down when they first start. I tell them to acknowledge people who walk by with their eyes, because you feel so much happier by making eye contact.”
Macdonald’s Canadian Keenfit walking poles, which she sells for Dh250, come with three different toggles at the bottom so they can be adjusted for sand, flat paths and fields.
Since launching the business, Macdonald has helped to establish Keenfit-affiliated groups as far away as Africa. A representative of the Saudi National Guard, who learnt to pole-walk with Macdonald in Dubai, now has his troops doing it in Jeddah.
“Pole-walking is a great stepping stone to get back to exercise for people who carry a lot of weight or haven’t been flexible for a long time,” says Macdonald. “The poles aren’t just there to give you extra cardio, they’re also there to support you so you’re walking in perfect alignment. Like yoga, pole-walking helps to create balance.”
This is an article published in the CMTA Magazine and written by JOSEPH GREGORY STILWELL, DPM, FACFAS, read about all the Benefits of Balance Walking…
Imagine being a four-legged animal, using Nordic walking poles to prowl city streets with the strength and balance of a big cat on a savannah. Now imagine using Nordic walking poles to participate in yoga and Pilates. Imagine walking outside, breathing deeply, chest wide and spine lifted tall.
Exercise walking? Some of us just want to increase our confidence on stairs, step gracefully over a curb or get help with a weak ankle or painful back. Nordic walking poles have a patented three-piece strap that allows the user to open the palm of the hand and push downward into the poles, lifting the rib cage and giving the lungs plenty of room for expansion. A whole hour can be spent using the poles for bending, stretching or squatting—all exercises that help with balance.
Those of us with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are used to walking a little differently. We may “lurch” when fatigued, the result of our upper bodies favoring one side or another as we walk. With a set of walking poles, though, we become rhythmic, smooth and mostly pain-free. While few of us can achieve the physical therapists’ ideal of symmetry between the two halves of the body, with walking poles we can function as if our length, strength and flexibility were equal throughout our bodies.
Walking poles offer people with CMT not just a way to get and stay fit, but also a training aid for walking and balance. Medical studies on “pole walking” uniformly show better breathing, less stress on joints, and other significant advantages over running, including more calories burned in less time. In a related note, evidence has been mounting that using a tempo like a simple musical rhythm helps with neurological re-training. Walking with poles at a basic metronome-like pace results in smoother nerve conduction. For urban or hard surface walking, a rubber tip can be placed on the end of each pole. This allows one to truly push into the pole, lift the spine and propel the legs forward. These high-traction rubber tips help keep one from sliding when performing a leg up stretch or pushing the body into a lifted twist using the arms and shoulders.
The beauty of using two Nordic-style poles when walking is that as your legs get tired and foot drop or ankle rolling gets worse, the poles can be “push-pulled” to use the stronger muscles of the shoulders and trunk to take stress off the tired legs and feet. Plus, you can always stop and do some stretches, deep knee bends or twists with the poles to bring a spring to your step.
My wife and son and I recently pole-walked through the Loop area of Chicago. It was a joy to be able to gaze upward at the tall buildings with confidence that our poles would keep us upright, stable and able to lean back to peruse the beautiful architecture. The same technique works in wooded areas or parks where we can admire the tree tops, listen to nature’s sounds and even muse at the clouds—much like being a kid again.
PICK UP A PAIR OF POLES AT 10% OFF AND THE CMTA GETS 30% OF SALE.
Interested in implementing Dr. Greg’s recommendations and getting
Nordic fit? Balance Walking will donate $30 to the CMTA for each
set of poles sold. The CMTA and your body will both thank you!
Visit www.balancewalking.com and enter the coupon code “CMTA”
to get started! A free motivational book is included in your order.
CMTA Advisory Board member Dr. Greg Stilwell demonstrating the body alignment Balance Walking Poles promote.
There was a study released last year, that prompted our company to make some changes. The results of the study showed, if we rearranged our schedules and got up every hour we would not have less circulation problems – the study revealed that we would have none. The information from the Indiana University Study was empowering, so we dove right in. After that dive, I learned a few things I would suggest implementing before starting a Corporate Wellness Program.
BEFORE STARTING – Make sure there is water in the pool!
1. Keep it simple. Try not to feel overwhelmed, or be overwhelming. A few small changes at a time can be a positive way to not appear overwhelming . A corporation trying to change an individual mind set, may not be appreciated, so try presenting it as a new option your company is offering. Do not overwhelm the company with a lot of new expenses. Make a budget and decide what the company will invest in employee health.
2. Assign a project manager to be in charge of the program.
As the owner or upper management, actively participate in your wellness program. This one shift of responsibility had a very positive impact in our office.
3. Set your goal, and map out your direction. For instance, our goal was to see if wellness could help our office have more productivity and less sick days. Our direction started with information and positive thinking, building on that foundation with the values of exercise, rest and nutrition. We found ourselves a year later in a much healthier place than when we began.
FIVE CHANGES WE MADE AT OUR OFFICE AT THE BEGINNING OF OUR WELLNESS JOURNEY
1. POSITIVE THINKING: We started with positive thinking, because science keeps releasing more studies showing how much power our thoughts have over our physical body. One of these years we are going to stop being surprised by the research findings and say something like,
“I knew the mind could do that.” Meanwhile, share the studies that surprise people with how much power they have. Keep the sharing simple and relevant.
2. EXERCISE: As a walking company we would go Balance Walking after work, or even have walk meetings during work, but we were still sitting for hours at a time. An enlightening piece of research was released on September 8, 2014 from Indiana University stating if the body stays in a seated position for 60 minutes it results in half the circulation to the legs being cut-off. “The study participants who walked for five minutes for each hour of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same.”(1)
If this is not enough information to scare you straight
out of your chair add a “90% drop in a circulating
blood enzyme called lipase, that is responsible for
breaking down fat. In addition, electrical activity in
our leg muscles radically decrease the longer we sit.”(2)
The empowering part of the article reports, that if you
get up before the clock strikes twelve this impairment
does not happen. The report also made it quite clear
that exercising after work does not affect these results.
The way we chose to incorporate this fact into our office life is that we decreased lunch breaks to half an hour and walk breaks every hour for 5 -15 minutes. By adding poles to the walk we can double the walk benefits in half the time.
3. REST: We did some research and found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes at t a time, then break. Working in bursts with purpose made sense, so we gave it a try. We had a staggered start daily, with everyone being on a different schedule it did not work for us to have the program manager announce 52 minutes. What worked for us was to have each employee come up with their own system. A few associates use a fit bit, one found a solar alarm clock, most employees use their phone. Keep it a simple and flexible reminder to move.
4. NUTRITION: We replaced the soda in the machine with water bottles. It is very important to avoid purified or distilled water, to hydrate properly supply bottles of natural spring water. We have found it to be a good investment to supply a free bowl of nuts for employees to snack on. The protein is a good snacking option, and appetites satiate quickly when they have to do the cracking themselves. We believe the cost of nuts to be offset by people not having to think of a snack. There is a positive impact just knowing the bowl is there. We can grow in the area of nutrition, the office does share healthy food tips, but eating is so personal that currently we just pass along reading suggestions for them to look up after work.
5. BALANCE: In order to start sitting less, we have to start standing more. We must support our foundation. Did you know 90% of all people wear improperly fitted shoes? The right shoes or custom inserts can align the body. This is especially valuable information for corporations that have associates standing for hours at a time. We found Foot Solutions have an expert certified staff that performs the best foot and gait analysis using the most advanced state-of-the-art technology. Call 1-888-FIT-FOOT to see if there is a store near you.
Whatever your office situation is, we at Balance Walking would be happy to help you get a wellness program started. Our program manager said the hardest part was the first week, and she is willing to give free consultations to get people through it. Now that we are up and running, our office is more receptive about new information, which was not the case when we first started. We gave ourselves a pat on the back when a report on RSI (eye strain)came out, telling people who work on computers to focus on something at least 20 feet away every hour to save their eyes. We have been doing that for a year on our walks, before the study was even released.
Our walk meetings have been wildly successful, and adding poles have proven valuable for walk meetings because people are able to look directly at the person they are conversing with. There are many benefits of adding poles during a walk, just one is that they free people from having to look at the ground in front of their feet allowing them to look around and relax the hard working neck and shoulder area. If you have any questions about starting your Corporate Wellness Program, or would like to purchase Balance Walking Poles in bulk for your office, contact information is below. If you would like to save 50% on an order just type ‘halfoff’ in the discount box. Order Poles
References: 1. Indiana University study released on Sept. 8, 2014 “Short walk breaks found to reverse negative effects of sitting” 2. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2012/02/22 3. The University of Illinois.
If you avoid walking, because each step is painful due to foot neuropathy, learn more now. Balance Walking is a safe, easy, low-impact exercise that you can perform with your doctor’s approval.
Reasons to add poles to your walk:
– improves blood circulation and oxygen levels
-helps to reduce stress up to 30% on joints and there are 33 joints in each foot.
-reduces cramps and rigidity caused by contracted muscles
-strengthens weak muscles and improves range of motion
-if you have trouble balancing, this is like walking with four points of contact instead of two.
Balance Walking Poles often enable those suffering from Neuropathy to walk more confidently, longer, with reduced pain and reduced or even corrected foot drag.
WARNING: Avoid harmful repetitive weight-bearing exercises and do not exercise for prolonged periods of time, instead try walking for about ten minutes every hour. This is important because “damaged nerves can regenerate as long as the cells that make them up are still alive. By performing regular exercise you can facilitate this process, minimize the adverse impact of foot neuropathy and regain a better quality of life.”1
This hour mark is of additional importance, because if the body stays in a seated position for 60 minutes it results in half the circulation to the legs being cut-off. Set an alarm to remind yourself to get up after 50 minutes, because a study from Indiana University shows if you get up your circulation will not be impaired at all. “The study participants who walked for five minutes for each hour
of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same.”2
If this is not enough information to scare you straight out of your chair add a “90% drop in a circulating blood enzyme called lipase, that is responsible for breaking down fat. In addition, electrical activity in our leg muscles radically decrease the longer we sit.”3 When transitioning the body from sitting to standing, take a minute to point and flex your feet to get the blood flowing all the way down. Increasing circulation to the feet is a beneficial thing to do in the morning, before getting out of bed. Start your day on the right foot.
References: 1. Livestrong.com “Does Exercise help Neuropathy of the Feet 2. Indiana University study released on Sept. 8, 2014 “Short walk breaks found to reverse negative effects of prolonged sitting” 3. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2012/02/22 Order at BalanceWalking.com Get more information: email@example.com
I think there are still a few people that don’t know what Balance Walking is, I realized this when a man walked by and said, “the snow has melted – why the poles?” So I am writing a post about the simple value of adding a set of poles to your walk.
#1. It is simple to get started doing something new and fun and easy. You have been walking for decades – YOU GOT THIS.
#2. It fits in your busy schedule, just keep a set of poles in your car and grab them when you have a few minutes to burn.
#3. Burns up to twice the calories in half the time, now that is using your time wisely.
#4. A wise use of money, with gym memberships you have a monthly fee and poles are a one time cost of $49.95
The concept of adding poles to walking started in Europe, where this form of exercise is very popular. I read an article in a German publication that said “if someone is out walking briskly Europeans look at them and wonder why they don’t have their poles.?”They understand the added value is so beneficial for the body, that just walking is not as productive.
BENEFITNESS For the Body
Engages 90% of the muscles, including the core.
Eases stress on joints up to 30%, and enhances cardiovascular performance up to 22%.
Adding poles to the walk increase the heart rate without increasing the perceived rate of exertion – basically you can walk farther, and get more out of it in half the time. Just the simple act of holding the poles promotes good posture, which improves body alignment.
Because it lowers the exertion rate, it also lowers the metabolic cost, which is the factor that determines how much your body will benefit from the exercise.
The many benefits added to the body are obvious, but there are also a benefits for the mind.
BENEFITNESS For the Mind
A lower metabolic cost, gets more oxygen rich blood delivered to your brain,
which causes a variety of benefits from increased cognitive functioning to a better mood.
The poles take away the need to look at your feet or the ground in front of you. Balance Walking free’s you to be able to look around and enjoy the view. This simple act allows your heavy brain to balance on the spine, which gives your neck a break.
Balance Walking is just fun, lets face it walking can feel monotonous, but adding poles to your walk adds a fresh, new experience.
CTA: Click link below to receive a free PDF flow chart and a 50% OFF coupon
Come join us and help support research to prevent and cure breast cancer. Together we can make the end of breast cancer a reality. We are offering free training sessions every Wednesday at noon, from now until May 9th – Race Day. Let’s get ready together, to make the one mile or five mile walk. Just come by Balance Walkings Corporate office before 12 on Wednesdays at 104 Interstate North Parkway East, Atlanta, 30339, or join our group.
Adding poles to a walk is beneficial for everyone, because it engages almost all the muscles in the body including the core. Balance Walking has the increased benefit, for Breast Cancer Survivors, of rebuilding the muscles in the chest that can decrease after surgery. Survivors who added poles to their walk, increased their upper body strength up to 47%. The poles increase the good in the body like cardiovascular performance, calorie burn, alignment and good posture. The poles decrease the negatives like the perceived level of exertion, stress on joints, while alleviating tension in neck and shoulders.
Try to walk and move every hour or two. This keeps the oxygen levels high, which will keep your energy levels up. If you are able to walk in an area with trees – hiking is ideal.
Balance Walking poles are a tangible reminder to get up and move your body.
If you have a desk job, you could be sitting 12 hours a day. Add it up for yourself, you sit on your way to work, you sit at your computer, you sit at lunch and sit some more on the drive home. Once you are home do you sit and watch television, or work on your home computer? It could be OVER 12 hours a day.
“Of course, health studies conclude that people should sit less, and get up and move around. After one hour of sitting, “the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90 percent.” Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism affecting things like (good cholesterol) HDL levels in our bodies. Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to six percent of the impact for heart diseases, seven percent for type 2 diabetes, and 10 percent for breast cancer, or colon cancer. You might already know that the death rate associated with obesity in the United States is now 35 million. But do you know what it is in relationship to Tobacco? Just 3.5 million. The New York Times reported on another study, published last year in the journal Circulation that looked at nearly 9,000 Australians and found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent. In that article, a doctor is quoted as saying that excessive sitting, which he defines as nine hours a day, is a lethal activity.”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nilofer-merchant/sitting-is-the-smoking-of-our-generation_b_2506748.html
Reports are now saying that an hour or two in the gym does not compensate the body, in fact a hard work out may cause more stress on the body. What are the best things you can do for yourself? Take a walk every 2 hours, drink plenty of good quality water from a natural spring and eat whole foods.
All of us want to do something healthy during our day, even if its just to taking a walk. The greatest find for 1000s of new Balance Walkers is that by adding Poles, we have discovered the facts are you can achieve much more in less time than regular walking. There are countless Walking Poles studies on the Web showing the positive influence of the poles medically and physically. With the Balance Walking Book as a guide to the other Wellness Pillars we know that the small healthy changes over time will last a life time. Change your health ONE step and ONE bite at a time.
We know walking is good for us, but sometimes we forget to do it. Balance Walking poles are a tangible reminder to move your body. A set of poles by your computer, or leaning against the television, will remind you to take a walk.
Our bodies work so hard for us…how about lending a helping hand. Give your body what it needs and it will give you the energy level you desire. I have seen and felt what walking every day can do for me, start a new habit for yourself today. When you have walked for 21 days send me a note on Facebook and let me know the differences you see and feel. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Balance-Walking-Poles/245630542289129