Taylor Anderson discovers the body benefits of Nordic walking in the North of England
When I signed up for a weekend of Nordic walking at the luxurious Rockliffe Hall hotel in County Durham – a short taxi ride from Darlington – I was expecting more of a country ramble than serious exercise or adventure. Although I’d read about the benefits of walking with poles (total body toning, up to 46% more calories burned than traditional walking) I wasn’t convinced it was going to have that much more of a fitness impact than, say, walking without a set of poles. Fast forward to my first lesson (yes, you need lessons) and our instructor tells us a daily dose of Nordic walking is so good for cardio and toning, he’s given up most other exercise – and he’s a former Marine! He explains traditional walking is static and heavy, while Nordic walking is free and quick, burning mega calories while allowing you to cover a lot more ground.
How to walk yourself slimIt’s the poles that are key: they get the upper body involved, and they allow you to propel yourself forward so you move much more efficiently. After only a few minutes, I can feel the challenge on my shoulders and triceps. We’re also told to stay on the balls of the feet so we bounce forward. At first, I’m frustrated. I’m not coordinated, I can’t swing my arms high enough and all this bouncing has my calves begging for mercy. It only takes a bit of practice for it to click, though, and when I grab my poles the next morning for our eight-hour hike over the moors, my muscle memory kicks in.
There’s no denying it’s a physical challenge but the fresh air and a vista of rolling hills dotted with wild horses keep me going. As we make our final ascent up a steep hill face to take in the amazing view of the moors – the poles give us the power and balance to scale it easily – I’m glad I put in the effort to master this new skill. Plus I can’t wait to indulge in the saunas, hydrotherapy pools and a special Nordic walking leg treatment waiting for me back in Rockliffe Hall’s incredible spa.
For more information: rockliffehall.com; 01325 729999. Travel by East Coast Trains to Darlington: direct from London, East Midlands, Yorkshire, Scotland (eastcoast.co.uk; 08457225225).
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