Walkers prove you don't need snow to use poles
Pam Bates (left), management analyst, Base Realignment and Closure Plans and Integration Office and Lee Sasser, a management services specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Director of Resource Management, walk with their Nordic poles during their lunch break. The poles help keep the correct posture while walking and provide resistance for the upper body, allowing a total body workout.

There's no snow on the ground, so why are some people bringing out the ski poles'

It may look like a practical joke to the uninformed, but in actuality, the poles are part of the exercise regimen of Nordic pole walking.

Nordic pole walking originated with Nordic skiing.

Millie Daniels, an independent wellness instructor, said the trend started in Europe in the 1990s but started gaining popularity in America in the past two years.

"It started in Finland as way for cross country skiers to stay in shape during the off season," Daniels said.

Daniels' introduced the exercise program to her students after seeing the gains that professional athletes made training with the poles.

During a demonstration at the Wellness Center's Holistic Wellness Day last year, Daniels caught the attention of Lee Sasser, a management services specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Directorate of Resource Management, and Pam Bates, a management analyst with the Base Relocation and Closure Plans, Analysis and Integration Office.

"We thought it was cool. You're exercising not just your lower body but upper body as well," Sasser said. "It strengthens areas not normally covered by running."

Bates agreed, although she said the training does draw attention.

"We get lots of stares, a lot of comments. Mainly stuff like, 'Where's the snow''" Bates said.

Although they may face questions over their exercise choice, Daniels said its effectiveness cannot be denied.

"Nordic pole walking uses 90 percent of your muscles. It strengthens your core and allows you to work your upper body while you walk," she said. "You can burn 40 to 48 percent more calories than regular walking. It improves overall lung potential by 12 percent."

Sasser and Bates, who Nordic walk Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 45 minutes, say they have both seen results.

"I've noticed a tremendous difference, especially since I combined it with aerobics," said Bates. "I've lost 10 pounds and toned my calves, arms and legs."

Sasser said she's noticed her lower body has become more toned since walking. She believes it allows her to walk a variety of rougher terrains, causing her body to work harder and build muscle.

"You don't have to stick to the sidewalk," she said. "You can change the terrain, walk on the grass, up hills."

The variety within Nordic walking is a big selling point, said Daniels. She has introduced Nordic walking to first grade students in Tuskegee, Ala., and an 86-year-old woman at an East Cobb senior center.

"It's a way for people to get up and get moving. It's a low impact way to get a workout," Daniels said.

For anyone interested in giving Nordic walking a chance, Daniels said she has left several sets of poles at the Fort McPherson Fitness Center for use.

Those looking for their own set can purchase them at most sporting good stores or online, Sasser said.

No matter where the poles are bought or how much they cost, Sasser said they are a lifelong investment.

"Walking is the best thing," she said. "You can do it for the rest of your life, long after you can't run anymore."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16