Five Pillars for staying healthy

No those aren’t weird traffic signals.  My pal, R.O.B. (self-named Retired Old Broad), believes these are 3 of 5 critical pillars for staying healthy as one matures.   Include plenty of green and orange foods in your diet, follow two other pillars – at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night and hydrate (daily: half an ounce of water for every pound of body weight).  The fifth and most critical pillar, MOVE! Last weekend we planned to move, a short road trip north to stroll the waterfront property near Parry Sound where my husband and I are building our next home.  But it rained for three days solid. So we stayed home, hit the movie theatre one night and the local book store the next.  I’ve been curious about Zoomer Magazine (zoomers are boomers with zip) so I picked up the October issue.

Pole Appeal

As the rain poured on, we settled in with books, remote control, the magazine and vodka-tonics (hey, the slice of lime is green).  I discovered an article (Page 42, October 2011 issue) on Nordic pole walking, not to be confused with ‘walking with poles’.  The difference, you ask?  If you are Nordic pole walking properly one mile engages 1800 contractions of stomach muscles and 900 of back muscles and increases calorie burn by up to 46 per cent more than just walking.  Walking is good, of course, but only engages the lower half of the body.  Nordic pole walking engages 90% of all body muscles. It can also reduce those awful ‘batwings’ of aging upper arms – I wanted the poles!

Intrigued, we braved the wind and rain and drove to a nearby sporting equipment store to find out more.  As we approached the proprietor asking if he knew anything about Nordic walking or better yet, stocked the poles, he started to laugh.  “No, but Shawn does” he said pointing behind us.  Do you believe in coincidence?  Shawn, a Master Nordic Walking Trainer (1 of only 3 in Canada), had entered the store immediately behind us and sold the poles.  The catch, we couldn’t buy until we attended a Nordic Pole Walking Free Clinic!

First Steps

Despite the frost and -2 Celsius temperatures, ROB and I are ready to give it a try!

After 1.5 hours at the “First Steps Clinic” this frosty but sunny morning, R.O.B. declared “I don’t want it to end”.   Nordic pole walking is not an easy thing to catch onto.  There is a definite technique involved that all ages and fitness levels can learn. Shawn’s patience and individual coaching had our group of 9 beginners in proper stride for the walk back to the parking lot.  Amazingly nothing hurt afterward, and everyone felt energized.  We bought the poles and will attend at least one more First Steps Clinic before advancing to the next fitness level.

Shawn is convinced that in the future Nordic pole walking will be as popular in Canada as it is in Europe.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Fresh air, exercise that uses 90% of the body’s muscles and once you’ve learned the technique, seems almost too easy!  The health benefits alone make it is so much more than simply ‘walking with poles’.