Get Walking - Nordic Style!

"Get Walking - Nordic Style!" by Helena Van Ryn, P.T.

This blog was written by Helena Van Ryn, P.T.  
Physiotherapist & ACSM Exercise Specialist
Minto Prevention & Rehabilitation Centre 
University of Ottawa's Heart Institute



For people with heart failure, the latest walking craze is a great option. Nordic walking began when cross country skiers needed a way to continue to train in the summer and off season.  It started in Europe and now has a following across North America.

There are many benefits.

Nordic walking can burn more calories than walking without poles and increase your heart rate. It can also improve your upper body strength, posture and balance, and reduce the strain on your hip and knee joints. Nordic walking has been shown to increase the workload of walking by about 30%. And the poles allow people who are a little unsteady on their feet to have better balance.

Nordic walking has shown potential as a rehabilitation option for people with chronic low back pain, Parkinson's disease, depression, Type 2 diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ( COPD) Fibromyalgia and also acute coronary syndrome.

Physiotherapist and Nordic walking master trainer Marja-Leena Keast recently completed a study at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. After 12 weeks, Nordic walking led to better outcomes in term of functional capacity, waist circumference, grip strength and fewer depressive symptoms in people with heart failure. There were also promising changes in terms of body weight. The study concluded that Nordic walking was superior to standard care for improving functional capacity and other outcomes in these patients.

What's the right fit for you?

To choose the proper Nordic Walking pole for you, subtract 50 centimetres from your height (i.e.  a person who is 170 cm would use a pole that is 120 cm.)  As a rule of thumb, the elbow should be at a 90 degree angle to the surface when the pole is in a relaxed grip on the ground. For beginners, it is recommended to start with a shorter pole. Some companies also carry adjustable poles.

For further information, you can reach Marja-Leena Keast at 613-761-9272.

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