Nordic walking is especially good for people with asthma and if you’re one of the UK’s 8 million people living with asthma I’d urge to give it a go. Nordic walking might also be a great option if your breathing has suffered as a result of Covid and you’re wanting to start exercising again*.
First, Nordic walking changes your posture, both by reminding you how you should be holding yourself when walking and by strengthening those key postural muscles as you Nordic walk. Good posture gives your lungs more space to do their job and puts your head, neck and shoulders in the best possible position to facilitate easy breathing. Being well aligned places less stress on your body in general so that your respiratory system can function more efficiently. Nordic walking regularly will encourage a good postural habit which can spill over into your daily life so that you’re walking well all the time without having to think about it. This coupled with poles which act as support can give you the confidence to start exercising again.
Second, being physically active strengthens your lungs. Just like regular exercise makes your muscles stronger, your heart and lungs also improve with exercise because they have to work harder to supply the additional oxygen your muscles demand. Nordic walking may feel easy but it’s actually quite demanding on the body because all your muscles – both upper and lower body – are being used to propel you forwards. So your lungs have to work harder (even when you are walking at the same pace as your regular walking) and you use more energy to move.
Finally, it’s fun. We’ve all started gyms/fitness classes with good intentions but the reason we stopped? Nordic walking just seems so enjoyable. Ask most Nordic walkers and they’ll say that an hour’s walk is the quickest hour in their day. When something’s fun our bodies respond too. Everything’s easier, more relaxed, more responsive. Laughter is medicine as someone once said – it certainly is for the lungs.
In my book Let’s Walk Nordic you will find a menu on Nordic walking for Asthma and respiratory conditions, giving you top tips and common mistakes to get the most out of your Nordic walking. Plus on the Let’s Walk Nordic website my ‘How to’ videos give you more tips on posture and breathing.
*You should always seek medical advice before undertaking any exercise or starting an exercise programme.