As part of Walking Month 2019, Explore Kent has been looking at the various ways we can all incorporate more walking into our lives. As well as simply being a way of getting from A to B, did you know it can also be a sport?
We’ve kindly been provided with a guest blog from Claire, a recent devotee of Nordic Walking, who would like to share with you why she would recommend it.
Discovering a love of fitness and the great outdoors!
At the start of 2018, when it came to the dreaded ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ I did some real thinking… finally admitting to myself that not only was I overweight and on my own, BUT I’d reached my late thirties. It was time to do something about it – getting fitter seemed like a sensible goal.
I’ve not been blessed with a love of sport or exercise, but in early January I started a ‘Walk to Run’ course thinking that running would be my way to get fit. But 3 weeks in, after a lot of pain, I had a diagnosis of arthritis in my knee. I felt completely deflated, and my New Year’s resolution looked set to fail – it seemed that running was not for me.
I was feeling sorry for myself, then by chance, a friend sent me details of a taster ‘Nordic Walking’ session having heard that it might be something I could do, even with my ‘dodgy knees’! I went along to the taster session, and was immediately hooked!
I’ve been Nordic Walking for only about 6 months, and still feel like I have a lot to learn. But here are 10 reasons (and more) why I have reached the conclusion that Nordic Walking is the exercise for me – and I believe everyone should have a go at least once!
10 reasons why Nordic Walking has become my exercise of choice:
1) It’s social, with a real sense of community : When I tried running I could barely manage to string a sentence together at the same time, so the idea of running to meet new people didn’t really work for me. With Nordic Walking it’s different – there are times when it’s tough to talk but there are also some great conversations, plenty of laughs and I’ve met lots of lovely people who are also out to have fun and get fit!
2) It’s accessible: I’ve not ventured to other groups yet, but I love knowing I have the option to join other groups with the passport scheme. Plus, with a set of poles and having learnt the technique, it’s possible to go off and Nordic Walk pretty much anywhere. Which brings me on to point 3…
3) I’ve developed a new love for the Great Outdoors: The enjoyment of a good walk has enabled me to appreciate the scenery around me. I’ve spent time in places that I used to just drive past in the car. It’s great to explore things at a different pace!
4) It’s a great learning opportunity: I’ve really enjoyed taking up a sport with a technique to learn – I feel like it has engaged my brain as well as my feet! I’ve loved learning the art of Nordic Walking, and it’s been a good laugh too.
5) It’s improving my fitness: The first bonus I noticed was that I was able to exercise (strenuously) and my knees didn’t hurt! A few months on and I feel the healthiest I’ve felt in years. My Fitbit says my heart health score has improved a lot, and my friends are starting to comment that I look really well. Which also leads on to point 6…
6) It’s having a positive effect on my attitude and my mental health: Because I’m enjoying exercise and being out in the fresh air, I’ve found I’m generally feeling more relaxed and have a much more positive outlook than before.
7) I’m much more committed to improving my fitness: Having discovered a sport that I enjoy and which makes me feel energised rather than shattered (or bored as I used to feel in a gym), I actually WANT to go walking, and have set myself goals which I never thought possible. I definitely have a way to go with weight loss, but I’m currently training to walk my first marathon in aid of charity, which is something I’d never have considered a few months ago!
8) I’m learning new things – not just Nordic Walking related: Thanks to really knowledgeable instruction from John, I’ve not just learnt Nordic Walking technique but have a whole new appreciation for aspects like when to rest, what to eat, how to warm up and recover after exercise etc. I’ve also enjoyed meeting lots of fellow walkers who it’s been great to share many a conversation, and a laugh, with.
9) It’s given me motivation, confidence and curiosity to get out and explore new places: Having discovered a sport I love, it’s even motivated me to go exploring new places and new walks. I’m hoping to go to my first Nordic Walking festival next year. I don’t even know what to do with myself on a weekend I can’t go walking now!
10) And above all, did I mention: It’s FUN and funny (particularly the looks you get from little children who think you’ve lost your skis!).
There’s still a long way to go. But I feel fitter than I’ve felt in years, love meeting like-minded walkers, and am really thankful that in discovering Nordic Walking I’ve found a sport I can actually do, and that I can see myself enjoying for years to come. You never know, I might even encourage some of my friends to try what they call “skiing without skis”!
Thanks for that, Claire!
If you would like to try Nordic Walking, the best place to start is Nordic Walking Kent, a branch of Nordic Walking UK. They offer taster sessions, Learn to Nordic Walk courses, and regular classes. Kent is the perfect environment to try this delightful activity.
John Dent is the lead instructor at Nordic Walking Kent. Contact him for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call on 07976 358773.