Our bipedal gait is hard-wired into our DNA. However, movement skills, like other skills, will fade if they are not used. For our increasingly motor-dependent, desk-bound, screen-dominated populace this is worth worrying about.
The human body’s evolutionary journey is one of high physical activity. Walking, squatting, twisting, throwing, climbing, lunging, reaching, carrying were our daily movements. How many of us incorporate these activities into our lives now? Does it matter?
Well, yes. Look up Sedentary Lifestyle in Wikipedia or take a quick read of one of my previous blogs Get fit, stay healthy. When you think about it, it’s not surprising that physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK and is costing the nation a whopping £20 billion a year.
The problem is that many of us have developed a sort of sensory amnesia. We are no longer aware of how we hold and move our bodies. We have forgotten how to relax areas such as the neck, lower back and shoulders, or how to activate muscles like the glutes or abs.
One of the beautiful things about Nordic walking is that it awakens our awareness of how to walk. It reminds us of:
- Posture – how we should be holding ourselves, how to relax our shoulders
- The mechanics of walking – the heel/toe roll, the hip/knee/foot alignment
- Balance – ensuring even weight distribution, engaging the abs (did you know that we are on one foot during 80% of walking)
- Correct muscle activation – particularly of the glutes which are so weakened by our sedentary lives.
- Fitness – the way in which you can turn a walk into a workout.
We also benefit from this increased understanding even when we no longer have the poles in our hands. We have remembered how to walk properly. Nordic Walking can offer a wide range of class types – beginners’ sessions, slow walks, flat and hilly walks, fitness and longer walks. This variation of classes means that you can build the full range of physical fitness into your week and continue to benefit every time you go walking, whether to the shops, work or recreationally.
The Go Green launch last Tuesday to coincide with Bristol’s year as European Green Capital has given me food for thought. Travel to and from work is high on the agenda. Inevitably this means encouraging employees to walk or cycle to work. Businesses might benefit from a workshop for their employees on how to walk effectively.