Louise Minchin on Nordic Walking

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin - Credit: Archant

How do you get teens out with you into the fresh air and countryside? The Chester-based BBC presenter came up with a good idea.

Three months into 2019 and I’m still in pursuit of what now appears to be a New Year’s Resolution... to be a little more slow! I said in last month’s column that I was going to ask a friend to give my daughter and I a lesson in Nordic walking. I’m so pleased that I did get around to calling her and arranging to meet on a wet, windy Saturday in the car park in Erddig Hall, a National Trust house near Wrexham.

When I told the teenagers and my husband that they would be coming with me for a two hour lesson in how to walk, the reception was, as you might imagine, a little frosty, but despite some scepticism we did all arrive together, on time and in appropriate wet-weather gear accompanied by the dogs Ruby and Waffle.

First, our instructor, Helen explained what Nordic walking is: a full-body exercise which uses specially adapted poles to help propel you as you walk, so you use muscles in both your upper and lower body. It was originally invented in the 1930’s by Finnish cross country skiers who started to use their poles in off-season training with no snow, and realised it was keeping them in top form. Now, it is officially recognised by the NHS as a good way to improve fitness, lose weight and tone the whole body. Much hilarity ensued as we tried to fit our hands into what appeared to be specially designed fingerless gloves which work as straps to attach your hands to the poles. Once we had done that, Helen marched us up and down the car park showing us how to plant our poles properly, push off the ground, and walk tall, while the dogs watched us, wondering what on earth we were up to.

Getting a handle on the technique required concentration, and coordination, but after 15 minutes of laughing at each other’s mistakes, we had got the hang of it, and we set off into the Welsh countryside at impressive pace. It was a miserable, drizzly day, but we loved it. An hour and a half went in a flash. With or without poles, the walk reminded us that being outside in the countryside, whatever the weather, can be the most brilliant family bonding time.

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