Exercise Is the Best Medicine


If you’re living with a chronic health condition­­­ or simply want to feel more vibrant, Nordic walking, also known as urban poling, can be a powerful tonic. The rhythmic swinging of Nordic walking poles activates your arms and core muscles turning a humdrum stroll into a full-body workout.

The technique is relatively easy to master: lengthen your stride slightly, swing your arms from the shoulders (not the elbows), and press down and back on the base of the poles’ handles. Et voila! Feel every muscle instantly engaged, your body energized, and your spirits lifted.

“Our sales are spiking because people are looking for alternatives to exercising at fitness clubs, recreation centres and pools because of COVID-19,” says Mandy Shintani, co-director of Urban Poling Inc., a Vancouver walking pole manufacturer and distributor. “Nordic walking is an ideal exercise for the times because it’s an outdoor fitness activity that is low cost and really enjoyable.”

Don’t be fooled by flimsy imitations from big box stores or confuse them with hiking poles, she adds. Only good quality Nordic walking poles will give you all the health benefits and be hard wearing.

Almost every day Urban Poling hears how their poles have changed their customers’ lives. Here are three of those stories.

Balance, confidence, stamina

The steady patter of her feet and Nordic walking poles hitting the ground are happy sounds for Toronto retiree Merrilee Wilson. Her outings with her poles at a local park have become what she calls a “bright light” in her day.

“The poles give me the balance assistance I need while improving my posture and upper body strength,” says Merrilee, who is managing multiple injuries from a catastrophic car accident and usually travels via scooter.

She got her Nordic walking start in a six-week beginners program taking her first tentative steps with the Urban Poling ACTIVATOR poles, which provide maximum stability. She graduated to Nordic walking poles once her strength and balance improved.

“My instructor was a wonderful motivator and extremely patient,” says Merrilee. “I now walk for 20 minutes with my poles, a monumental achievement. I hope to show my appreciation one day by paying it forward to another beginner.”

Weight loss, friendship, joy

“In 1998 I was diagnosed with clinical depression, and then I lost my husband after a long struggle with cancer,” says Carol Smith, who lives in Saskatoon. “Before I knew it, I was 100 pounds overweight.”

When a physiotherapist friend suggested she try Nordic walking, she was afraid it would be too painful for her overburdened joints. Instead, she loved it immediately.

“The poles took a tremendous amount of pressure off my knees,” she says. “I started poling regularly, moving from 20-minute to 60-minute walks, and I joined a weight loss group. Instead of socializing over food, I scheduled Nordic walking sessions with my friends.”

Today Carol has shed the 100 pounds and her knees are pain-free. “But best of all, I experience regular post-workout endorphin highs that help manage my depression and carry me through my day.”

Posture, strength, endurance

If you have arthritis or the simple aches and pains that can come with age, keep your body moving, says Fran Betts, a retired healthcare worker and older adults fitness instructor who lives in Wallaceburg, Ontario.

“Twenty years ago I began dealing with the beginnings of arthritis in both of my feet,” says Fran. “Simple walking was becoming too painful until I tried Nordic walking.”

To her amazement she found that the poles allowed her to offload body weight into her upper body, and she could walk for longer periods with much less discomfort. She gradually increased her walking distance each week. Eventually she even felt good enough to Nordic walk in a 10 KM fundraiser.

“As I’ve become better at the technique, I’ve noticed improvements in my posture and in my entire body’s strength,” she says. “The best news is that I’ve been able to get back to walking the local trails with my husband and dog, something I thought I might never do again.”

For information on purchasing Urban Poling poles and products, including The Urban Poling Ultimate Guide to Nordic Walking, and to view video of Nordic walking in action, CLICK HERE.

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