Last week I set you a short quiz. It was part Nordic walking, part health. The answers plus some commentary are below. I would recommend you stand to read it as my answer to question 4 provides some unsettling information about the dangers of too much sitting.
1. During walking, what percentage of time are you on one foot?
Wow. A whopping 80% of the time we’re on one foot. How many of you got that one right I wonder. So think how important it is that you are properly balanced, with your weight evenly distributed, your walking mechanics in alignment and the correct muscles activated. Don’t worry if you’re not thinking about all of that - Nordic walking sort of does it for you (with possibly a little guidance from us instructors!).
2. How many of your body’s muscles do you work when you Nordic walk (if you’re doing it properly!)?
I’ve often wondered which muscles aren’t activated by Nordic walking. The joke amongst instructors is that once we start talking, all the body’s muscles are involved in Nordic walking. Seriously though it really is a total body workout, toning your muscles and helping to keep your bones healthy and strong.
3. Physical inactivity is the
largest cause of disease and disability in the UK.
Answer: Fourth according to Public Health England (heart disease is number one).
Physical inactivity is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and costs an estimated £7.4 billion a year.
4. Which is more dangerous to your health?:
More and more studies are showing that inactivity is far worse for us than being overweight. One such study earlier this year indicated that a sedentary lifestyle may actually confer twice the risk of death as being obese. Personally, I’m pretty sceptical about this. The strain on all your body systems from being seriously overweight must be enormous and there comes a point where people can't be adequately mobile because of their sheer size.
Be that as it may, it appears that sitting is now public enemy number one. Phrases such as ‘the sitting disease’ and ‘active couch potato’ may have already floated their way into your psyche. You can’t offset the damage caused by sitting by going for a quick run (or walk). It’s the length of time sat that’s the problem, hence the ‘active couch potato’ tag. So don’t be one of the 65% of Britons who sit 8-10 hours a day (BMJ 2015). Stand, wiggle, fidget, move!
5. You can burn up to
more calories Nordic walking than ordinary walking.
Yes you can burn nearly twice as many calories Nordic walking than ordinary walking. If losing weight is your aim then push yourself extra hard up those hills and make sure you keep on the pace on the flat. Nordic walking is the outdoor equivalent of a cross training machine so don’t forget to use your upper body and you’ll soon be walking faster than some of the joggers, as several of our 10k Nordic walkers discovered.
6. The Government recommends that we do:
a) 5 hours
b) 2.5 hours
c) 7 hours
of moderately intense exercise a week.
Answer: 2.5 hours or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise spread across the week.
We also need to include muscle strengthening exercise and as we get older, balance work. All of this is wrapped up within Nordic walking, especially if you come to our Nordic walking circuits classes as well.
7. The International Nordic Walking Federation (INWA), the world’s first organisation to promote Nordic walking globally, was founded in Finland in
I bet this surprised you. Whilst the Fin elite cross country skiers developed Nordic walking as their summer training in the 1930s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the recreational use of Nordic walking was launched in Finland. INWA, the global architect of Nordic walking, was formed in 2000. It came to the UK around 2005.
8. Which is the odd one out? To walk faster you you must:
a) speed up your arm swing
b) increase your stride length
c) push off firmly from your toes
Answer: Increase your stride length.
Do not force an increase in your stride length - ever. This is a recipe for hip, knee and back problems. Instead, focus on points (a) and (c) above and you’ll find that your stride length will naturally increase. If you’re interested in walking faster take a look at my Speed Nordic Walking blog.