Walk This Way: 8 Amazing Health Benefits of Nordic Walking for Those with Parkinson’s

Walk This Way: 8 Amazing Health Benefits of Nordic Walking for Those with Parkinson's

Research has shown that Nordic walking holds a host of health benefits and that it provides superior exercise and results when compared to regular walking. 

Nordic walking can be done by all ages but some of its benefits make it a particularly great exercise for seniors. Additionally, some of the positive effects are specifically beneficial for people with Parkinson's disease. 

Living with the onset of Parkinson's is tough, and finding a suitable exercise that is safe and comfortable can be challenging. As a senior one has to be extra careful when exercising not to overstrain or lose one's balance. At the same time, maintaining an exercise routine is vital for combatting Parkinson's disease. 

The good news is that Nordic walking is practically perfectly suited to seniors, and is an ideal exercise for those with Parkinson's disease. 

Read on the find out the top 8 health benefits of Nordic walking for those with Parkinson's.

1. Nordic Walking Improves Your Coordination

One of the top reasons why Nordic walking helps Parkinson's patients is that it helps to improve one's coordination.

Also known as pole walking - Nordic walking involves the use of two Nordic walking sticks that are taller than regular walking sticks and extend up to almost chest height. 

These Nordic walking poles are held in the hands and used to propel one forward. Because of this, not only are your legs going backward and forwards but so are your arms. This rhythmic use of both arms and legs at the same time is thought to promote coordination.

2. It Is a Great Form of Cardio for Seniors

One of the most powerful benefits of pole walking is that is it a great form of cardio. What's more, it is one of the forms of cardio that is safe and suitable for seniors. Most seniors are not comfortable with typical types of cardio such as running, rowing and cycling.

Pole walking, however, because it involves the upper body as well as the lower body, increases one's heart rate considerably more than regular walking - while being just as comfortable and safe. 

And what is really exciting is that science has shown that aerobic exercise is highly beneficial for preventing the progression of Parkinson's disease as it has a protective effect on the brain. 

3. It Improves Balance

One of the most subtly debilitating aspects of Parkinson's disease is that it affects one's balance to the point where mobility is impaired due to risks of falling. 

Fortunately, this is another area where Nordic walking can make an improvement. According to a studyconducted in Hungary, seniors who participated in a pole walking program showed significantly improved balance, while the control group who did not participate showed both reduced balance and muscle mass readings.

4. It Exercises Almost All of Your Muscles

One of the most convenient benefits of Nordic walking is that it activates and exercises 90% of the body's muscles. This makes pole walking a superior form of exercise to regular walking, which only utilizes about 40% of one's muscles. 

Keeping all of one's muscles strong is very important for Parkinson's patients as this will help to ease the severity of some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease that make movements difficult. 

5. Decreased Strain on Your Joints

Another uncomfortable symptom of Parkinson's disease is that it can create pain within the joints. If this happens, it can be challenging to find a form of exercise that does not aggravate this or feel painful. 

Pole walking, however, is one form of exercise that is gentle on the joints. This is because one's weight is not solely distributed on your legs. Instead, some of it is disbursed into one's arms that are holding onto the Nordic walking sticks.  

This distribution of weight makes it a gentler exercise than walking for one's joints, which is ideal for some Parkinson's patients, not to mention seniors in general. 

6. It's Great for Your Posture

With the onset of Parkinson's disease can come changes in one's posture. As the body adjusts to things like compromised balance and coordination, it is common for one's center of gravity to shift forward and for one to develop a slight stoop in order to try and regain some balance. 

At the same time, a common symptom of the disease is what is known as camptocormia or 'bent spine syndrome'. This can become quite chronic, and in turn, can lead to other problems and further decreased mobility. 

To counteract these effects it is important that you engage in exercise that improves posture. Nordic walking is ideal for this, as the action of holding onto the Nordic walking poles and propelling oneself forward with them has the effect of keeping your spine aligned and straight as you walk. 

The more you engage in pole walking, the more natural and comfortable this upright posture will feel. 

7. It's Safer the Regular Walking

While exercise is incredibly important for seniors and those with Parkinson's - finding an exercise that is effective and provides a good workout of the body, while also being safe, can be tricky. 

One of the daily dangers that come with Parkinson's disease is the chances of tripping or falling due to decreased balance and coordination. So it is doubly important for Parkinson's patients to engage in exercise that does not increase this risk. 

The great news is that Nordic walking is a form of exercise that actually decreases the risk of falls. Nordic walking helps stability and thanks to the Nordic walking sticks, you have increased support and can walk with more confidence and a lower chance of accidents.  

8. It's Social

Some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease can have a negative impact on one's social connections. Situations that were once enjoyable may become challenging and often times those afflicted with Parkinson's are apt to withdraw from social activities to avoid stressful situations. 

A great perk of pole walking is that if done with others it can be a social activity that does not come with many social type demands. Group exercise is believed to promote feelings of community and bonding, while at the same time does not require you to talk a lot or deal with things like eating out.

Final Word

Nordic walking holds a range of health benefits for people of all ages and is a great form of exercise for seniors because it is highly safe and a more effective workout than regular walking. But for people with Parkinson's disease, the benefits are even more valuable. 

If you feel like you want to give pole walking a try, we highly encourage you to give this wonderful form of exercise a go. 

If you need to pick out some great Nordic walking poles to get started, check out these carbon fiber trekking poles.

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