Is Nordic Walking for You?

You’ve heard the great news about Nordic Walking. Less stress, more energy, better posture, higher heart rate, easy to learn, fun to share…and you wonder, is this for me? Could I do it?


Since December 12 when the StarTribune article came out I’ve had daily emails, texts, phone calls and even people stopping me on my walk, “I think I could do this, tell me more!” The stories touch my heart: “I’ve had back surgery, 2 bad knees, very overweight, been on the couch since Covid happened, don’t walk but would like to, used to run but can’t anymore, I’m 82 or 57 or 68, my spouse and I, my neighbor and I, I think my mom could, I just think maybe I could do this”

The simple answer is yes! From couch potato to retired runner and everyone in between, Nordic walking is for you! Poles will provide balance and stability, reduce your pain while walking, help you to walk tall and strong, create a better workout for fitness and health, and the rhythm of the walk will lower your stress and improve your mood.

The simple addition of poles with an introduction to the basic technique and you’re on your way. It’s not about how fast or far you walk, the poles will offer you the confidence and strength to do more the next day. Have fun!

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What keeps you from your walk?

How often do you find yourself with no time for your walk and so you wait until tomorrow or the next day or next week before getting outside again? Whether you’re a new walker or a walker in a rut here are some suggestions for setting yourself up for success.

First and most important, a buddy and a plan. Set your time for walking, put it on your calendar and try to find someone to join you. Gail and I walked at 5:30am for 30 years together. Yes it was hard to get up, yes it was dark and cold in the winter, yes it was easier to roll over and say sorry I’m not coming. But we were committed to the time, the activity and each other and it was always worth the effort to get out of bed, put on our shoes and grab our poles.

Set the stage. The anticipatory set – I put my walking clothes in the bathroom, jacket and other outdoor clothing by the door and my poles are in the corner. I’m set for getting up and out the door. No excuses, do not stop and think, just get dressed and go.

Don’t let weather get in your way. There is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong choice of clothing. Although Gail and I will put off a walk when there’s heavy rain or lightning. Dig deep in your closet, maybe buy something special just for walking, but commit to having what you need to get outdoors.

Imagine the walk. I go to bed knowing I’m going to get up and walk. I see myself stepping out into the early morning and greeting the day. I can imagine how good it’s going to feel. Talk about motivation!

Take what you can get. There are days or mornings that finding 45 minutes for a 3.5 mile walk is hard to fit in. But the answer is not “I can’t do my walk today”, the question is how far can I go if I only have 20 minutes. It’s better than nothing even if it’s just a walk around the block. Tomorrow is another walk.

Find the joy in every walk so it will help you repeat it again tomorrow.

and most important – don’t beat yourself up when the going gets tough and it’s hard. Tomorrow is another chance to give yourself the gift of moving your body, breathing fresh air and knowing you’ll be better for the effort.

Nordic Walking – More Energy, Less Stress!

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The Newest Pandemic Health Kick? Nordic Walking!

I just have to say it one more time. The one thing 2020 has given us is a new appreciation for being outdoors and for walking! There are so many articles on the benefits of being out in nature, just ask your neighbors, they’re probably getting ready for a walk right now!

Thanks to Kevyn Burger for the great article on Nordic Walking in the StarTribune this morning. Fun information on not only the benefits but also the history and what’s going on in the Twin Cities with walking groups. Thank you!

Since there’s little snow on the ground there’s no excuse for not trying the poles right now! Get out and enjoy the winter with a new activity, good for your body, mind and spirit. And we all need that right now! Unfortunately I’m in Arizona right now but will look forward to seeing you all in the spring! Walking groups in the St Cloud area will begin again in April!

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Friluftsliv – in other words don’t let winter keep you in

“I’m just not a winter person!” “I don’t have the clothes to go outside.” “It’s too cold!” “There’s nothing to do outdoors in the winter.” “Just let me hibernate!” I’ve heard it all before but I’m here to add my voice to all the others telling you that this year is different. It’s time to become a winter person and get outdoors this season.

Regardless of where you live you really need to continue to go outdoors for you own health and well being. The winter sun and fresh air will make you feel better just like it did this summer. Take a break from all the stress. Change your clothes and change your mind to allow you to step outdoors into the wonder of winter, you’ll be glad you did.

Blue Zones introduced me to Friluftsliv, a Norwegian word that illustrates the commitment to celebrating time outdoors. I love having a word to describe the mindset of getting outdoors regardless of the weather. We may not all be of Norwegian or “Scandahovian” (as my dad liked to call it) descent, but we can all find the winter person with us and experience the joy of crisp air, brilliant blue skis and cold snow under our feet. ( did you know that snow squeaks when it’s really cold outside?)

To get started first envision yourself being out in winter. Talk about the things you like about winter. Look in your closet for warm layers to wear, maybe even buy a fun and snuggly scarf or hat as your “go outside” accessory. Dig in the back of the closet for your snow boots.

Now ready, set, go! Just like if you were starting any new activity, start slow and easy. No need to stay out until you get cold. No expectations for you to become a downhill racer. Just go out and start moving. Take a walk, borrow a sled from the kid next door, throw a snowball, run and slide on the ice. Celebrate the weather and the joy of being alive and outdoors.

and next time someone talks about how much they “h… winter” you can help turn them around with stories about how much fun you’re having out in the snow.

fox tracks seen off the 6 shooter chairlift in Moonlight Basin, Big Sky, Montana

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A Walk Around The Block

Spike Carlsen’s new book just came out!
“A Walk Around The Block” Stoplight secrets, mischievous squirrels, manhole mysteries and other stuff you see every day (and know nothing about)

Nordic Walking is one of those curious things he covers in his fun and captivating way. Featuring the Nordic Walking Queen of course!

Spike was curious about Nordic Walking and called to come out to the lake for a private lesson May of 2019. We spent the morning together introducing him to the poles, history, benefits and basic technique. With poles in hands we took a walk through the neighborhood leading him from his first tentative steps to coordinated striding and pressuring the poles. It was lots of fun!

Spike was interviewed in the StarTribune today and he mentions the Nordic Walking Queen. I’m pretty sure that Nordic Walking is about to become a hot topic, especially in this time of Covid when we all need something that takes us outside for some fresh air and exercise.

Thanks Spike for shedding some light on the mysteries of all those people walking with poles.

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Winter’s coming! What to do!

Covid came you went outside
You found the joy, you got the rhythm
Alone or with a willing partner
Step by step you’ve become a walker

But winters coming what to do?
Nordic Walk and keep it going
poles in hand you’re warm and fit
tips and grips reduce the slips

Better than the walk you’ve got
Posture, heart rate, work out – up Up UP
Clears the head and drops the stress
Out in the fresh air, it’s the best!

The one gift that the summer of 2020 gave us was the healing strength of going outdoors. People everywhere discovered how much better they felt when they took a walk outdoors. That simple activity in the fresh air, saying hi to neighbors, safely enjoying some conversation and social interaction, moving our bodies and clearing our heads and hearts. It’s like magic.

But now everyone is in a little bit of a panic about winter. Many don’t consider themselves a “winter person”, have no outdoor snow activities that they enjoy, panic about dressing warm enough to go outside to play, and have no vision of how to do it.

Relax, it’s not that hard. Here’s a few winter tips to prepare you and make it easier.

First look in your closets and find warm layers to wear in the cold. You probably have all you need, no fashion police outside in the winter. Try it on, see yourself outside in the snow or cold, enjoy feeling like a snowman/woman. Find the child within you that delights at winter.

Second remember that you don’t have to go out and brave the coldest of the cold and you only stay out as long as you’re comfortable. Like any new activity take it slow and easy. Go out for 15 minutes and walk around the block. As you become comfortable with the cold go longer or more often.

Now find a buddy and plan to meet outdoors at a specific time and place. Gail and I walk out our doors at 6:45 and meet on the street somewhere between. It keeps us both accountable and safe outdoors.

and finally Try something new! There are equipment rentals at many regional parks and outdoor stores. Sign up for a snowshoe class, cross country ski experience or local winter walking group. You’ve become a walker, now add Nordic walking poles to keep you warm and safe in the cold.

Don’t let winter shut you in! There is magic in the crisp, cold days of this other season.

You can do it!

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Spring Classes on Hold

It’s time to put Nordic walking on your calendars but at this time most of the community ed programs are putting classes on hold until we can safely gather together. Please stay posted for updates. Here is the proposed schedule for community walks and hopefully we will be able to start these walks in mid April. Poles and quick introductions are always available for new walkers. Everyone walks their pace and distance and no one walks alone.

Sartell – Mondays at 5:30pm Watch for annoucements of meeting spots

Cold Spring – New day!  Wednesdays at 8:30am meeting at the ROCORI Senior Center for the first few weeks and then we will be getting out and about on different trails and neighborhoods.

Lake George, St Cloud – Thursdays at 9am meeting by the Granite fountains at Lake George.

St Cloud VA schedule to be announced

in the meantime if anyone would like to purchase poles, borrow demo poles or needs new tips for their poles please let me know! We can meet somewhere, practice social distancing and do a hand off.

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Is walking making a comeback?

During this difficult time as we all stay at home the one thing we are encouraged to do is to go outside everyday. Go for a walk they say. Just keep your social distance but get outside to help reduce the anxiety and keep you healthy. In my neighborhood I see people walking! and some of them are not even walking dogs, they are just out for a walk.

Is it fair to say that good old walking is making a comeback? It’s simple, it’s rich in benefits, it’s free and it’s social. Fresh air and hello’s to all your neighbors and friends along the way.

When you step out that door enjoy the freedom that walking brings. Take your time (we all seem to have plenty of that right now), turn a different way, try a local park or wooded path, breathe deep and quicken your pace now and again to get that heart rate up. You don’t need a destination. Let your walk bring you back to yourself.

This article “Why Long Walks Will Change Your Life” seems very appropriate for today. May walking help sustain you during this time of “stay at home” and social distancing.

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Stepping into the New Year with Intention

Waking this morning to the new year I found myself reflecting on all the wonderful walks of 2019. Including the community walking groups, the VA programs, special events and of course my personal walks with friends and family I walked just over 1000 miles.That’s a lot of walking and talking and sharing our lives with every step. Thank you to everyone who walked with me!

More importantly it was a year of people making commitments to their own health and wellness by getting outdoors and walking. I’ve been leading Nordic Walking programs in Central MN for 5 years now and have been blessed with introducing the fun and fitness of the poles to so many over those years. There are walkers who have been with me for all five years and always new walkers curious about the poles. It’s an incredibly inclusive group and no one ever walks alone. Regardless of fitness level, interest level, health concerns or mobility restrictions there is a walk for everyone who comes.

As you step into 2020 join me in making it a habit to get outdoors to walk everyday! If the weather keeps you inside, and I do realize that happens, find a place that is warm and safe from the snow and ice to do your walk.
Be intentional about your walk, be good to yourself!

Happy New Year!

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Newest Nordic Walking Class and a Video!

On May 9 we applauded 12 new Nordic Walking Instructors for completing the Group Walk Leader Training. We had Instructors from Stillwater, Maple Grove, Becker, Foley, St Michael, Coon Rapids, Clear Lake, Minneapolis and Plymouth MN. They represented programs at Senior Facilities, Community Ed, Churches and Private programs. Thank you to Maple Grove Community Center for hosting and the group leaders from their programs for organizing the dates and space for the training.

It was a windy afternoon but I’m proud to report that they all did well and are excited to be out turning ordinary walks to extraordinary Nordic walks all over Minnesota.

And a big thank you to CCX Media for coming to tell the story. You can view Meredith Hackler’s excellent reporting on you tube.

New Nordic Walking Instructors May 9,2019
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