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Get out and walk! Your brain will thank you

There’s been a bit of a buzz recently about the benefits of exercise – and specifically walking – to our brains.  It appears that exercise has both a direct effect, slowing the shrinkage of the brain (and even promoting neurogenesis) as well as an indirect effect by improving mood and sleep and reducing stress and anxiety.  Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

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The Cardio benefits of Nordic walking - and Body Boost

Over the last few days I have been running a number of fitness assessments for walkers on our Body Boost programme.  Every single person has made a marked improvement on his or her earlier assessment, generally done about six weeks ago.  One walker took nearly a minute off her previous half-mile distance time.  These improvements are a fantastic boost for our walkers.  Here’s why.

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How to Nordic walk: Part II

A few months ago in How to Nordic walk: Part I, I set out the five basic steps to effective Nordic walking.  This second part explains how you can develop your technique to a more advanced level.  It is based on the ten step teaching method established by the International Nordic Walking Federation (INWA).

The basics – a recap

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Technique focus - heel/toe roll

Some aspects of the Nordic walking technique are common to both Nordic walking and ordinary walking.  The heel/toe roll is one of them.  Get this right and assimilate it into your regular walking and your balance, posture, joints, circulation and lower body tone will improve dramatically.

So what do we do wrong?

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Keeping up with family and friends

I’ve just returned from a fabulous week in Cornwall.  The coastal paths there are beautiful and I loved walking them.  What struck me was the number of times I passed couples or families with very different fitness levels.  Most often the man was striding out ahead with his other half trying valiantly to keep up.  It can’t have been much fun for either of them!

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Race to the Stones 2015

Last weekend Joy, one of our walkers, joined over two thousand others and tackled the annual Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones 100k challenge.  Starting in the Chilterns, Oxfordshire, the race followed the Ridgeway National Trail, finishing next to the 5,000 year old stone circle at Avebury.  This is a route that I am interested in walking next year, maybe in one go or else over a couple of long weekends - so watch this space!  In the meantime, here is Joy's account of her experience:

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Get waisted Nordic walking

A key area that many of our walkers want to trim is their waist.  Not only will this help you look great but, more importantly a slim middle has significant health benefits.

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One lightning strike and it's all over

Oh calamity.  The morning started bright and sunny and 16 us from Bristol Nordic Walking piled into cars and headed to Cosmeston Country Park, Cardiff, for the fourth ever UK Nordic Walking Challenge Event.  We’ve had plenty of success in the past – PBs broken and medals won.  We were hoping for more of the same – especially with so many of our walkers on top walking fitness and form.  But sunshine and heat (and some equally searing lap times) turned into cloud, wind, rain and then – yes – thunder and lightening. Just one clap, but it was massive.

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Elderflower Gems

The elderflowers are still in bloom and, if you’re quick, you’ll be able to pick them and make one or more of these fabulous recipes below.  You should ideally pick the heads once they have been warmed by the sun.

 Elderflower Champagne (thank you Pat Siddons)

 Ingredients

4.5 litres of water

700 grams caster sugar

20 elderflower heads

2 lemons zested and grated

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

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Sunny walk on Dartmoor

My friend, Elaine Sylvester from Love Dartmoor, and I have just spent a magnificent day walking on this unpredictable moor (today it was sunny and warm, if windy).  A little east of the route Elaine is planning for those of you who are coming on the Dartmoor weekend in September, we started at Sourton church.

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