This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

May 31, 2006

The Next Big Thing in Corporate Exercise: Nordic Walking

While we are concerned with exercise and health, we also look for ways to do more with less. Many people prefer to stay in shape with minimal effort. The latest exercise form is Nordic Walking. It’s sweeping Europe, catching on in the United States, and finding great receptivity in other parts of the world.

Nordic Walking concentrates on the same 90 percent of muscles exercised when one uses the Nordic Track® machine, but is usually enjoyed outside and is probably safer: there’s no risk of falling off the machine. The most beneficial aspect of this exercise is that it burns up to 40 percent more calories than regular walking. Proper use engages the upper body and abdominal muscles in the workout.

The exercise was developed in 1997 by the Finnish cross-country ski team to stay fit during the warmer months. Today, about 10 percent of the Finnish population practices the sport.

Nordic Walking is enjoyed inside and outside. The poles used while walking resemble ski poles, but they have angled rubber tips for pavement and indoor use. The walker removes the rubber tips to expose a carbide tip for walking on non-paved surfaces.

Because the sport is basically walking with a bit of support, it is excellent for people with serious physical impairments, like patients with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Walkers use the poles to push off from the surface. That push-off propels the walker forward, increasing the length of the stride.

The three major pole makers, Leki, Exel, and Swix all offer instruction for the novice on their web sites. While each offers unique features, the Leki poles offer adjustable and locking capacities to account for different walking shoes and terrain. All manufacturers report their pole sales are up.

Expect to see walking clubs sprouting up around the globe, particularly in health-conscious California and Vermont in the US and Brazil and Japan, worldwide. Larger corporations will start Nordic Walking clubs to support the health of their employees. Corporate wellness programs will embrace the benefits of this exercise because of its suitability for overweight or mobility-impaired employees.


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