For many of us it’s a constant battle to maintain a healthy weight. We know that our risk of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease increases as we pile on the pounds and that exercise can help, but we often struggle to find something that we enjoy and which we can build into our lives.
Here’s something that might make you feel a bit happier: regular brisk walking is one of the best exercises for keeping weight down. Especially if you’re a woman or over 50.
Why? Because it’s easy and enjoyable as well as effective. Sure, you might not burn as many calories in an hour as a high octane fitness class, but how many times have you started a new exercise class, or gym membership and then stopped? Walking is successful because we don’t give up on it. We can slot it into our day and it can be a social event too – walking, talking and exercising the dog at the same time is a triple win.
Whilst walking by itself can help you burn more calories and shed body fat, there are certain ways you can increase the benefits and see results faster. One of the best is to take up Nordic walking.
A six month study comparing the effects of diet combined with walking versus Nordic walking showed that whilst both activities had significant results, Nordic walking had the greater impact. People’s body mass index (BMI), waist size, total body fat and leg fat all dropped further, their arm and leg strength increased, and their aerobic fitness gains were greater. Why? Nordic walking uses your whole body to walk. Your arms and upper body as well as your legs work to propel your forwards, meaning you use more muscle and burn more calories than regular walking. With good technique you can expect to use around 23% more calories, but it could be as high as 46%.
Even better is that although Nordic walking is more intense than regular walking, it doesn’t feel it because the workload is being spread across your body and the poles act as support. In fact, most Nordic walkers say it actually feels easier. Just like regular walking, you can talk at the same time (and walk your dog), all the while blasting fat, toning your trouble spots, and shedding those unwanted pounds.
If you want to hear someone’s first hand experience of how Nordic walking helped them lose weight, listen to the excellent Walking on Air podcast with Heidi Leaney. Heidi first tried Nordic walking in 2019 to help with a weight loss challenge and achieved truly remarkable results.
If you’re interested in learning Nordic walking and don’t have access to a Nordic walking group near you, my book Let’s Walk Nordic is your complete guide to getting started and using Nordic walking for your health and fitness needs. It has a dedicated menu on how to use Nordic walking for weight loss – top tips and common mistakes. So whether you’re new to Nordic walking or an established Nordic walker wanting to re-energise and lose those pounds that have built up, Let’s Walk Nordic can help you on your way.