The Portland Marathon already ranks among the most walker-friendly marathons in the United States with 28 percent of last year’s finishers being walkers. The 7 a.m. starting gun of the 34th running of the Portland Marathon kicked off the first event in the country to support walkers using Nordic Walking poles.
The Oregonian has published an article on the subject by Abby Haight. Posted by permission from the author.
Nordics join fitness race in pole position
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Pam Granata already was sold on Nordic walking. A stronger back and belly, toned arms and a tighter butt did that.
But when she and her walking group offered a pair of rubber-tipped ski poles to an elderly man who often walked – stooped and slowly – at Laurelhurst Park, the editor of Walkabout Magazine was ready to proselytize.
“They stood him up,” Granata says. “He could walk more comfortably. He said he was going to get some.”
Nordic walkers use ski poles as they walk – briskly burning up to 40 percent more calories than normal power walking, according to a study done by the Cooper Institute. The activity, which works the arm and trunk muscles for a full-body workout, is a familiar sight in western Europe and is starting to make inroads in the United States.
Exercise physiologists say poles can especially benefit people who are overweight and trying to gain fitness by easing strain on joints and helping balance. Granata says her former employer, a orthopedic surgeon, gave poles to his patients who had knee replacements.
On Oct. 9, the Portland Marathon will be the first large running and walking event to offer a Nordic walking division. Leki, which is sponsoring the division, plans to send a team, and Portland’s Mountain Shop and Sporthill from Eugene also have entered teams.
The downside to this new trend? Until Nordic walking really catches on, you’re bound to get funny looks and comments.