Many people find that their mood dips noticeably during the winter months and there is now a recognised term for severe winter blues – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The NHS has a very informative section on SAD, including symptoms, causes and how to treat it. The good news is that there are lifestyle measures you can take which can make a big difference. These include getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels. Nordic walking is an excellent combination of all of these and one of the most frequent comments we hear from you is how much better Nordic walking makes you feel. Here’s some reasons why:
- Exercising releases endorphins which can boost your mood, lower stress and help improve sleep, it will also make you feel more energetic. All of which encourages a clearer and more positive attitude.
- Getting outdoors during daylight hours encourages the brain to produce the chemicals serotonin and melatonin improving mood, appetite and sleep. This is hugely important and a one hour Nordic walk will make a big difference.
- Being outside in a green environment is a natural de-stressor and walking with others gives you the opportunity to talk about all manner of things – ‘putting the world to rights’ as my grandmother used to say.
- Exercising improves your circulation, especially Nordic walking when you’re active with your hands and feet which warms you up and helps your body’s systems to function more efficiently.
- Exercising will help you manage your weight better and keep your body in shape, which is particularly helpful if you are tempted to eat more during the winter months.
- Moderate exercise like Nordic walking strengthens your immune system so you will be less likely to catch those coughs and colds and other bugs. If you do catch them your body is better able to fight them off.
- Getting outside and away from a stuffy and centrally heated environment will be a breath of fresh air for your lungs, clear your head and remind you how revitalising and energising it is to be active and outdoors in our wonderful city.
Feeling enthused? Here’s the link to our bookings page.
Our No 1 Waterproof overtrousers
The trousers that most of us wear for Nordic walking are not naturally waterproof. So if it’s raining a pair of overtrousers is essential if you don’t want to end up soaking wet. The key with overtrousers for Nordic walking is that they are light and breathable. None of us want to end up with sweaty legs or spoil our walk with overtrousers that are heavy and rigid.
Ros and I have tried various makes and styles and the one we both rate the highest is the Berghaus Gore-tex paclite waterproof trousers. They're very waterproof, light, highly breathable, with an elasticated waistband and 3/4 length water resistant side zips. They also have a handy mesh net which makes them easy to pack away if you don't need them.
Of course any quality kit comes with a price tag and these retail at £110 from Cotswold Outdoor, although you can apparently get them cheaper online. Still, it is coming up to Christmas…
The benefits of gaiters
If you’ve never tried gaiters before I would highly recommend them. As well as keeping water and mud off your trousers, they also protect against thorns and other things that are likely to snag and damage your trousers. All have a durable water repellent finish on the outside and the more expensive ones also contain a waterproof and breathable membrane, which means you don’t get sweaty lower legs. Gaiters come in different sizes and lengths and it is worth trying them on to make sure they fit round your calves. Here’s a few tips on how to wear them:
- Most gaiters will have a small ‘hook’ at the base. This is meant to be at the front, hooked over/under your bottom shoe lace.
- The hooks on some gaiters are designed only to hook part way down your shoe laces. For Nordic walking you want ones that reach your bottom shoe lace, giving you maximum waterproofing and protection against mud.
- Most will also have an elastic toggle at the top, so that you can tighten the gaiter around your leg. The toggles should be on the outer side of your leg, tucked in – that way they won’t annoy you by rubbing against your legs as you walk or accidentally getting caught by the spike of your pole.
- The adjustment straps at the base can sometimes be annoying, either because you’ve cut them too short so that they come out of the buckle or else you’ve left them too long and the inside strap knocks against the other one as you walk. To avoid this, I keep my inside strap shortish and my outside strap a bit longer. Doing this also helps me quickly see which gaiter goes on which leg.
- Want a demonstration video on how to put gaiters on? Click here to watch one I recorded a while ago.
You can buy a decent pair of gaiters for under £50. Another thing to add to your Christmas wish list...