Stepping It Up With Pole-walking
Friday - July 16, 2008
You may have seen them - people walking with what looks like ski poles, but they’re in Hawaii and there’s no snow in sight.
Chances are they were walking with Nordic walking poles, two ultra lightweight poles that help you to get an upper body workout while you walk.
Does it work? Personal trainer Eric Okamura, whose clients include City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz and local entertainer Carole Kai, believes in them so much that he gives a free, one-hour Nordic pole walking clinic every Thursday at 5 p.m. at Kakaako Waterfront Park.
According to the International Nordic Walking Association (INWA), the benefits of Nordic pole-walking include:
* A higher heart rate of five to 17 beats per minute.
* An energy consumption increase by an average of 20 percent compared with ordinary walking.
* A releasing of muscle tension and pain in the neck and shoulder region.
* A significant increase in the lateral mobility of the neck and spine.
* No aggravation to the joints and knees.
* For overweight people, a reduction in the load on the knees.
* More calories burned (you burn about 400 calories per hour compared with 280 calories per hour for normal walking).
“The Nordic walking poles are a great way to increase your cardiovascular health,” adds Okamura. “When you walk with it, you decrease the stress in your lower body by 30 to 40 percent. It also builds your upper body strength, and it’s great for weight loss.
“Without the poles, I burn about six calories per minute, and with the poles I burn about nine calories per minute. It’s just a great way to cross-train. You can use the poles for speed walking, running and hiking. Also, it appeals greatly to people with arthritis or hip problems.”
According to the INWA, Nordic walking started in the early 1930s in Finland as an off-season training method for competitive cross-country skiers. However, it wasn’t until 1997 that the first official Nordic walking poles were introduced to the public by one of the world’s largest pole manufacturers, Exel plc.
Okamura uses and distributes the Fit Trek Nordic Walking Poles, which retail for about $90 to $100 per set and are available at various sporting goods stores, including Bike Factory, Total Fitness USA and New Balance. Other brands of Nordic walking poles also are available.
After testing the Fit Trek poles myself, I can assure you that the poles are super-light, compact and easy to use.
First, you adjust the pole to your height, and then as you walk your normal stride, drag the poles with you and pull down at each step.
In addition to the pole-walking clinics, Okamura also offers one-on-one and group exercise classes that are strength-training based, personal training and massage therapy.
His semi-private exercise and massage studio, Fit For Life, is located at 801 Dillingham Blvd., Suite 101 (near Costco in Iwilei).
You also can catch Okamura on the Saturday morning radio show Fit For Life, Taking The First Step, from 9 to 10 a.m. on KHVH 830AM.
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