How Nordic walking can benefit older adults


Staying physically active is very important in promoting healthy aging for older adults, as it can help you maintain a certain level of personal independence and physical fitness years down the line.


One of the most common recommendations for your older loved ones to try is Nordic walking, where you use two poles to work your upper body as you walk, similar to the movements in cross-country skiing. 


Integrating this exercise into your regimen can provide many benefits, from strengthened muscles to improved circulation. Let’s examine these benefits further below:


Strengthens bones, muscles, and joints.


One of the main benefits of Nordic pole walking for seniors is that it can vastly improve the strength of bones, muscles, and joints.


Because this exercise relies on the person bearing their weight and fighting resistance from using the poles, it can help tone and sculpt the legs and arms, cinch the waist, and tighten the core. 


Nordic walking strengthens your muscles, which subsequently helps support your joints, reducing pain and stiffness from issues like arthritis.  


Improves balance.


Nordic pole walking can be great for older persons who struggle with balance, as this exercise pinpoints areas on the body that affect your stability and footing.


Placing your poles on the ground propels you forward, allowing you to position yourself more stably and strengthen your core and muscles, positively affecting your sense of balance. 


As older individuals engage more in this activity, their overall improved physical stability will allow them to move faster and feel stronger!


Improves circulation.


While engaging in Nordic walking, older adults using the poles will perform full arm swings and regularly open and close their hands on the poles. 


This type of movement is excellent for boosting circulation in the hands, and the regular movement of your legs can also increase the blood flow to your feet. Overall, Nordic walking can help reduce symptoms of poor circulation, including the “falling asleep” tingly feeling in that can occur in the legs, feet, and hands. 


Improves function of lymph nodes.


One of the great benefits of Nordic walking is how it can significantly improve the function of your lymph drainage due to the focus on good, regular breathing while walking. Your posture and how you move your arms during Nordic walking can also contribute to the health of your lymph nodes. 


This benefit is particularly valuable for older ones, as proper maintenance of your lymphatic system can help reduce your susceptibility to diseases and infections like HIV, strep throat, and mononucleosis. 


Positively impacts mental health.


Taking part in Nordic walking is not only beneficial for your health physically, but it can also significantly improve your mental health! Physical exertion increases your endorphin levels, which helps reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and negative moods. 


Often, Nordic walking for seniors is enjoyed in a group setting. Group activities can help prevent older ones from isolating themselves and help them form new friendships, which can significantly contribute to an improved mental state.


Further still, walking outside and discovering new places can also help reduce anxiety and stress symptoms.


It works your whole body.


Walking is a great full-body workout for older persons who aren’t able to engage in overly strenuous physical activity, and Nordic walking works both your upper and lower body.


Nordic walking engages over 90% of your body’s muscles, strengthening and improving all the major muscle groups!


It is a great option for moderate-impact exercise.


It can be difficult for older ones to find enjoyable and beneficial exercises suitable for their personal movement level. 


Fortunately, Nordic walking ticks both boxes, as this exercise can be enjoyed outdoors and among friends and ranks as a moderate-impact form of aerobic activity, ideal for those less physically inclined or able. 


Since most of the effort needed for this exercise is exerted through the use of poles, many older persons find they can walk faster and longer distances than they initially thought possible. In addition, the poles make this exercise much easier, even though it works several muscle groups. It is also slow enough that older persons can walk and talk with their fellow retirees!


Burns more calories while walking.


Interestingly, Nordic walking burns a lot more calories than regular walking, as the support of the poles allows older ones to cover longer distances at a more comfortable, yet faster, pace. 


Using poles also reduces the strain on your joints, allowing you to exert much more energy while walking and, in turn, burn more calories as you move.


Those physically able may burn even more calories by climbing steeper terrain, as the poles will provide added support and safety. 


How to choose the best poles for Nordic walking.


Before engaging in Nordic walking, it’s essential to ensure you have good-quality equipment to get the most out of this exercise and to increase your safety.


When selecting poles, you’ll want to choose an adjustable set that’s lightweight but still sturdy. Walking poles with a triple-tip system are the most common for this exercise, as they can be used on many terrains without sustaining damage. 


Before taking off on your first Nordic walk, discuss the Nordic walking technique with your group instructor or doctor to ensure you’re approaching this exercise safely!


Final thoughts.


Nordic walking is a great physical activity for older adults looking for a low to moderate form of physical activity. 


This type of aerobic exercise engages both the lower and upper body, meaning it works the majority of muscle groups in the body. This exercise is excellent for older individuals looking to strengthen their muscles, joints, and bones while improving their circulation and balance.


If you’re considering joining a Nordic walking group or class, consider the information above and consult your doctor to decide whether this exercise is right for you.

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