“It’s not just a walk in the park” – Nordic walking, the new way to exercise

A Manchester based Nordic walking group is taking the opportunity to build friendships as well as fitness.

Nordic Walking is the fastest-growing fitness activity in the world, according to Nordic Walking UK, and is becoming rapidly popular as a new way of exercising.

Unlike hiking, Nordic walking requires walking sticks to propel the body quicker while taking large strides and keeping the poles at an angle. This motion is estimated to burn double the calories burnt when walking normally and uses 90% of the body’s major muscles.

In South Manchester, the Nordic walking group run by instructor Marion Endt-Jones meets once a week to take an hour-long walk around either Chorlton Water Park or Wythenshawe Park. The group ranges from beginners, to advanced walkers and qualified instructors. For just a £1 voluntary fee the instructors will provide walkers with Nordic walking poles, a 10 minute warm up/cool down and lead a safe route around the park. They will also give beginners an in-depth demonstration of how the sticks work.

Peter, one of the walk leaders of the group, has been Nordic Walking for nearly seven years and knows there are many benefits to joining a group. He says, “It’s good for your mental well-being and it’s good for your health as well. It’s not just a walk in the park, it’s building up new muscles and improving your heart rate too. It’s no surprise it’s becoming more popular.”

The members of the group don’t only attend to keep fit but to socialise, make new friends and go for a coffee at the local cafe afterwards. A big part of the South Manchester walkers group is the social side, especially encouraging those at risk of loneliness to join them.

A retiree explained the benefits he’s experienced since joining the group: “For some people, it gives them structure to their week because they know that they’ll be out for a couple of hours. Otherwise, when you’re retired, all the days can end up rolling into one.”

Another member expressed how he wanted to find a social activity where he didn’t need to ‘flash a plastic card’ to join in, especially in a cost of living crisis. He said, “Nordic walking is absolutely fantastic, it’s the most welcoming place I’ve ever found.”

The group have seen a large influx of people joining them once a week, with their numbers rising from 7 people to over 20 in a matter of months. It has ambitions to recruit a wider range of people and ages so that everyone in the community can get involved with Nordic walking. To find out more about your local group, visit the Greater Manchester Walking website.

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