It’s time to step into spring — with the help of some walking poles! In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April last year, the Touchmark at The Ranch Health & Fitness Club launched a four-week urban poling course, the first and only of its kind in northern Arizona.
What is urban poling?
Urban poling, also known as Nordic walking, fitness walking, or pole walking, is a low-impact workout that can be done anywhere one normally walks. Suitable for anyone with mobility, balance, and/or stability issues, especially for people with neuromuscular disorders like Parkinson’s disease (PD), the unique exercise style uses ski-like poles to enhance movement and activate muscles, providing a full-body experience.
The benefits of walking with activator poles
According to Touchmark Health & Fitness Manager Nick Brown, walking with poles offers significant benefits over walking without them. He lists several, including burning 20-46% more calories on average, engaging 90% of the body’s muscles, increasing core strength, and contracting abdominal muscles approximately 1,800 times per mile. “Perhaps most importantly, walking with poles is more fun, increasing people's likelihood of sticking with it over time,” says Brown.
Backed by scientific research
According to Dr. Agnes Coutinho Ph.D. of urbanpoling.com, health professionals are recommending urban poling, as they are the focus of eight independent current/recent studies at hospitals and universities across Canada and the US. There are over 250+ studies on PubMed, which clearly show walking with poles is an effective, safe, and enjoyable physical activity. Physical activity, such as walking with poles, may provide improvement in all spectrums of health including physical, psychological, and social well-being. Clients with injuries, chronic conditions, post-surgery, older adults, and mental health issues agree the exercise promotes greater independence and improves quality of life.
“Walking is a great way to maintain lifelong fitness, though it can be difficult to continue being motivated over time. The addition of poles refreshes walking and makes it feel easier, even though it actually works your body more. I highly recommend urban poling for anyone who wants to shake up their wellness routine, especially those with movement disorders such as PD,” Brown says.
He adds, “For those living with PD, urban poling provides additional stability and support to offset common symptoms such as tremors, freezing and tripping. It also allows one to walk with confidence, which decreases the likelihood of falling.”
If you are interested in trying this effective exercise practice, contact your local Touchmark community’s health and fitness team.