So what is Nordic walking? It started when Finnish cross country skiers continued using their ski poles out of skiing season, as part of their training. They found it kept their hearts and lungs in good condition even when there wasn't any snow on the ground, and maintained muscle tone in all their body. Research found that the technique had multiple health and fitness benefits and in the 1980s became an established practice in some European countries. It's just starting to become popular here.
It's more than just walking with the aid of two sticks. The poles are adjusted to suit the height of the walker (and as I found, you can even adapt them so they are different lengths to suit people like me with one leg longer than the other!), and then used to enhance a normal walking technique.
The use of the poles means that you stand more upright, open the chest, breathe deeper and more effectively, and the upper body and arms get a really good workout as well as the legs. The poles also propel you forward so you can go faster without it feeling like a big effort.
Before I met Jane for a lesson this morning I hadn't really understood why lessons were necessary. It's definitely something you need to learn! You can pick up the basics in one lesson but I think at least a couple are necessary to get the full benefits. It's an odd technique at first, that feels both natural and counter-intuitive at the same time, but you soon get into the 'swing' of it. It's something that anyone of any age and fitness level can try, and as I'd seen when I watched others doing it, I quickly started to smile. Jane is a great teacher, based in Middleham - you can find here details on Nordic Walking UK