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Do you want a simple way to stay active and get fit without having to go to the gym or learn fancy exercises?
Then it’s time to try walking with trekking poles!
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, especially for older adults, because it is low-impact, simple, social, and free. However, basic walking may be too light of an exercise for many people, because it doesn’t require much strength and the pace may be too slow to be considered aerobic.
According to the Center for Disease Control, adults should be getting a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, plus muscle-strengthening activities 2 days per week. This includes adults over 65 years of age who are generally healthy with no limiting conditions.
Trekking poles are a simple and affordable way to increase the intensity of walking, and are ideal for getting into nature and safely enjoying hiking, backpacking, or snowshoeing. Walking with poles (also known as Nordic walking) in parks and cities has also become very popular due to its convenience and effectiveness.
Using trekking poles helps to reduce the amount of impact on joints and pain you feel when walking or hiking. This is due to the change in weight distribution when you use your upper body to help propel you up a mountain or through a trail. Your hips, knees, and ankles will experience relief since your legs aren’t carrying all your body weight. This also means that you can walk further and recover faster from long or strenuous hikes.
Another benefit to having your arms involved when walking is that it improves circulation because your arms stay near your heart the entire time. Many users find that because their arms are not hanging by their sides, they experience less swelling in their hands.
Hiking poles essentially become like lengthened arms, enabling you to move a bit more like you have four legs. This provides drastically more stability and balance. The poles can be placed out in front of you to prevent falling, both uphill and down. They are also ideal when crossing streams and other uneven or slippery terrain. For older adults, the added balance is key to feel safe and secure, whether Nordic walking through Central Park or climbing a mountain.
Involving your arms not only reduces joint strain and improves circulation, but it also helps to build you upper body strength. You will use chest, back, and shoulder muscles to propel and support yourself as you walk, develop those areas over time. Consequently, bone density will also be built from the constant use of those muscles.
If one of your main goals with walking is to improve your fitness, then trekking poles will definitely help! A study by The Cooper Institute showed that Nordic walking increased energy expenditure and oxygen consumption by about 20%, compared to regular walking without poles. Even better news is that the perceived rate of exertion did not increase, meaning people burned more calories without feeling like they were putting in extra effort. Do keep in mind that if you already find walking or hiking to be strenuous or exhausting, this could actually be a hindrance. In this case you may just want to take poles along to support your balance and to clear your pathway of branches or obstructions, but allow your legs to do most of the work.
HOW TO USE TREKKING POLES
Now you’re ready to get started. Happy trekking!