nordic walking la victoria alcudia

nordic walking alcudia campament de la victoria, ruta, caminar

28-11-2019plozano

The temperature’s dropped, the trousers are on, and the hiking season has returned. But why do we walk? Well, because it’s convenient, easy, enjoyable and pretty good for our health.

Convenience

The gym is too far, the yoga classes aren’t available when we have the time, a personal trainer is too expensive, and surfing is just a hassle. Walking, on the other foot, starts at our front door, we can do it whenever life gives us the time, and it doesn’t cost anything. Little wonder, then, that the UK’s Active Lives Adult Survey in 2018 found that more people walk for leisure than any other physical activity. We’re creatures of convenience, after all.

Ease

Not only is walking convenient, but it is also one of the most automated motor skills. A study on infants learning to walk found that ‘twelve to nineteen-month-olds averaged 2368 steps and fell 17 times/hour.’ During years of repetition, we’ve automated walking, making it familiar, second nature and effortless. We should thank our younger selves for their persistence.

Enjoyment

Apart from being convenient and easy, we’re fortunate to live on an island where walking is a very safe, rewarding experience. In the late ‘80s, the National Consumer Council in the United Kingdom assessed involvement in outdoor activities, particularly running and walking.

Looking to improve public health, it evaluated the factors that promoted walking and reported that a pedestrian environment should be: ‘clean and visually attractive; free from conflict; have a low threat from vehicles and the side-effects of traffic, such as noise and pollution; it should be comfortable and convenient; and personally safe’.

You might complain about crime and traffic in Mallorca, but it is still one of Spain’s safest areas to live. And traffic? Really? We’re so fortunate to have tens of miles of pedestrian walkways, mountain trails and coastal paths.

While walking through a concrete jungle can be entertaining, it is unlikely to be as rewarding as walking in the countryside. Plenty of studies now show that just seeing nature lifts our mood. For example, a study of patients in hospital beds recovering from surgery found that those with simulated window views of water and trees were less anxious.

They also needed fewer doses of strong pain medicine than those who looked at abstract art or no pictures at all. As a result, doctors now prescribe walking in nature to patients to reduce blood pressure, anxiety and increase happiness- in Canada, these are known as ‘Park Prescriptions’.

With or Without Sticks?

Walking with a pair of poles is also known as Nordic Walking. The activity originated in Finland and has many additional health benefits. For one, the extra support protects knees from the impact of walking, especially when heading downhill. Sticks also serve to aid balance and stability on uneven trails, preventing slips, trips and falls. In addition, sticks help us move faster by engaging our upper body. Using more of our body burns more calories and builds muscles in the arms, shoulders and neck.

If it is so health effective, then why do so many fitness fanatics turn their nose up at walking? Well, the major downside of walking is that it takes a lot of time to get the health benefits listed above. But if we are short on time, we should try power walking.

Power Walking

To get the benefits of walking in less than half the time, get those arms moving and accelerate to between 7 to 9km/hr. At these speeds, power walking burns a similar number of calories as running.

Make it a full-body workout by carrying light dumbbells or just a couple of rocks lying by the side of the road.

According to the Australian Heart Foundation, power walking for an average of 30 minutes or more a day lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. In addition, it helps you lose weight, especially around the belly.

Power walking is also good for your bones, strengthening and protecting joints in the lower limbs. A Nurses Health Study in the US monitored 61200 postmenopausal women for twelve years. It found that those who walked four or more hours per week lowered their risk of hip fracture by 41%.

What’s more, brisk walking is good for our mental health. It sharpens decision-making and improves memory, especially as we age. It also reduces anxiety and depression whilst boosting self-esteem.

So, whether you’re embarking on the GR221- an undulating 135km (84mi) dry-stone route along the Tramuntana mountain range (the trail starts in San Telmo and finishes in Pollença) or taking a stroll along the Paseo Maritimo in Palma, get out and get walking. And by the way, don’t obsess too much about reaching 10,000 steps. It isn’t an evidence-based target.

The number comes from the Japanese term used for early step counters, ‘manpo-kei’, which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’. Designers only chose the number 10,000 because the Japanese character for the number looks like a walking man….
一万. Do you agree?

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