Walking is a great exercise in and of itself, but researchers at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute have found that adding simple canes can provide even more health benefits.
Scientist Jennifer Reed, who directs the institute’s Laboratory of Physiology and Cardiovascular Health, said Nordic walking, as it is called, originated in Finland where it is most common.
“Having poles when walking and hiking is an integral part of northern communities,” she said, adding that it was the Finnish physiotherapist she works with who inspired the team to study this type of exercise.
Reed and lead researcher Tasuko Terada, a postdoctoral fellow, compared the effects of three types of exercise on 130 heart patients: high-intensity interval training (HIIT), in which people have short periods of recovery between periods of activity; moderate to vigorous continuous exercise, such as walking or using a rowing machine; The northern walk.
Nordic walking has emerged
The results of the study were recently published in Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
“We found that all three types of exercise are beneficial in improving different types of health,” Terada said. “This includes quality of life and mental health.”
He also measured something called functional ability, or the distance a person can travel in six minutes of walking after doing a target exercise.
“[It’s] An important measure because it predicts future cardiovascular events and mortality,” Terada said.
And this is where Walking North came to prominence.
It improved functional ability by 19 percent, while HIIT improved it by 13 percent and moderate to vigorous exercise by 12 percent.
“Nordic walking…involves the upper body and may help in terms of balance regulation, thus dynamic balance, stability, possibly increasing stride length when walking, and that may have a positive effect on walking ability as well,” Terada said. .
Nordic walking lessons
None of this came as a surprise to Barb Gormley, director of education for Urban Poling and teacher of Northern Walks in Toronto.
It really can be done anywhere.Jennifer Reed, University of Ottawa
It’s relatively easy to pick up, Gormley said, but there are a few things to keep in mind—the three PS of the Nordic Walk.
“Plant the shaft in the right place using the appropriate technique, then press the outer edge of your hand down, there’s a second P, the edge of your handle, and it will push you forward,” Gormley said.
She also said that it’s easy to overdo it on the first try because it feels so easy.
“So if you’re new, you just have to adjust your pace and start with about a third of what you normally do for regular walking.”
Aside from the physical benefits, Gormley said it puts people in a good mood.
All in a day8:10Why is Nordic walking the best cardio exercise?
“I feel like in myself, you know those happy hormones flow through your brain, and then all the participants that surround me, we’re all in this happy void.”
Scientists at the University of Ottawa echoed this.
The three exercise interventions improved people’s depression outcomes, but the best exercise is the one you’ll do, and Reed said that’s where Nordic Walking might win.
“You simply need a place to walk with poles, so it can be done inside a shopping mall at no cost, it can be done outside, it can be done anywhere,” Reed said.