ASTANA – Nordic Walking, started in Finland, is drawing attention as a sport suitable for people of all ages who enjoy being outdoors. Three years ago, Almaty resident Maxim Proshchenko founded Eurasia, a Nordic Walking school certified by Nordic Walking International (NWI) headquartered in Germany.
The school currently has instructors in the Kazakh capital, Karaganda, Temirtau, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Pavlodar, Aktau, Zhetykara, Kokshetau, Shchuchinsk, as well as in Bishkek, Krasnodar, Barnaul and Moscow. The Astana Times interviewed Lyazzat Bozgulova, of the capital location, about the technique and health benefits of this low-impact exercise.
“Nordic Walking features a specific range of movement. It is a year-round sport; the main thing in this sport is appropriate equipment according to the season. One can choose a favourite place, comfortable walking distance and pace. An hour of daily walking can be very beneficial to health. Nordic Walking involves approximately 90 percent of one’s muscles, improving cardiovascular system functions, strengthening muscles that support the spine and increasing rotation of joints,” she said.
Nordic Walking is a total body version of walking that can be enjoyed both by non-athletes as a health-promoting physical activity and by athletes as a sport. The motion is performed with specially designed walking poles similar to ski sticks.
The poles have been proven by an Israeli research team to help alleviate chronic pain in older individual’s hips, knees and backs. According to the study, led by Tel Aviv Medical Centre retired nephrologist Dr. Donald Silverberg and published in the International Journal of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Nordic Walking holds promise in the effective treatment of chronic back, hip and knee pain when walking, both in degree of pain relief and distance walked. It is a relatively simple exercise that is easy to learn and perform and is safe, convenient, inexpensive and can be a pleasant adjunct to therapy for these conditions.
Unlike ski sticks, pole length is determined by a person’s height and calculated by multiplying height by 0.66. Poles can be purchased at sports equipment shops and through Nordic Walking clubs.
“Walking poles have removable rubber tips suitable for hard surfaces. These poles should be adjusted in length to be at the level of the navel or elbow. They are pushed backwards as one walks, while swinging the arms like a pendulum. When pushed downward, the poles thrust the athlete upward and forward, forcing him or her to straighten and speed up, because one uses a longer step and a faster gait with Nordic Walking than with a common gait,” said Bozgulova.
Nordic Walking has been shown to improve muscle strength in the upper arms, shoulders, neck, abdomen, chest, back, hips, knees and legs and posture, flexibility, balance, endurance and gait parameters. In the city, Bozgulova noted the activity is attractive mostly to women.
“They come and also bring their children who are sitting a lot at school or at the computer, suffering scoliosis or obesity and lack fresh air. As for me, I have been involved in this sport over the past two years. I always liked walking, especially with sticks. I think I am an active person; I love yoga, social dancing and rock climbing. If I go somewhere I always take sticks, it is very comfortable. Now, Nordic Walking has become very popular all over the world and now it is becoming trendy in Kazakhstan,” she said.