By Nordic Walking Watford at
I’m guessing by the flurry of recent walk cancellations that the cold weather is putting you off your stride with Nordic Walking. But it needn’t!
Gorgeous crisp sunny days are PERFECT for Nordic Walking and you will really reap the benefits if you do venture out.
When it’s cold, your body works harder to maintain your core temperature. You, therefore, expend more calories when you exercise outdoors.
Going for a brisk daily walk won’t just trim you down, it will also keep you up less often at night. Exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin.
Colder temperatures can help people think more clearly. If you’re struggling to focus whilst working from home or are juggling childcare at the same time, you might benefit from making getting outdoors for a brisk walk an essential part of your day.
The human immune system can be activated when exposed to the cold and this enhances your ability to fight infections. Nordic Walking in winter can help to reduce your likelihood of contracting illnesses as a result of this.
Moderately cold temperatures (5-10 degrees Celsius) can be good for the skin’s health because it constrains blood vessels in the skin. This makes the vessels less prone to redness and swelling, as a result of a reduction in blood flow. It can also tighten your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged.
Experiencing cold weather whilst Nordic Walking causes the heart to pump more oxygenated blood around your body. This helps to ensure that the body maintains an appropriate warm temperature, avoids any risks from a drop in temperature and can also be caused in reaction to the increased physical activity itself.
Being outdoors can increase a stress-busting effect, as well as benefiting from breathing in more oxygenated fresh air. Sunlight and increased blood flow in our brains can boost our production levels of chemicals like serotonin and endorphins, which can improve well-being and mood. Research has also shown that walking outdoors can have a ‘restorative’ property on our mental health, helping to create a break away from regular routine and lead our minds away from stressful situations.
Going for a walk in a group is also a social activity and an opportunity to catch up with friends, as well as a great form of exercise.
The list is virtually endless when it comes to the benefits of walking, particularly during the darker and colder winter months when a focus on mental well-being is just as important as the physical benefits. Walking is a form of weight-bearing exercise (because you carry your own body weight) that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve high blood pressure, regulate cholesterol, improve balance, strengthen bones, increase muscle strength and endurance, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness, and also help to manage joint and muscular pain.
This winter, with fuel prices as they are, it makes sense to “heat the person, not the home” so getting out for a walk will warm you up!
So that’s 10 reasons to get out Nordic Walking despite the cold weather. But it’s also worth being prepared and you will enjoy your walk so much more.
BE BOLD AND START COLD!
You are still going to get warm when you Nordic Walk in winter so layers are undoubtedly best so that you can shed them when you start to warm up. You want to avoid sweating which will mean you get cold when you stop exercising.
A good layering system comes in four parts:
A base layer is the layer of clothing you’ll wear closest to your skin. Try to keep this layer lightweight, moisture wicking, breathable and something that dries sweat quickly. Choose something made of synthetic material or a lightweight to mid-weight wool.
A mid layer provides insulation between your base layer and outer layer. Your mid layer should be warm enough to keep your body warm and still breathable to hike in. Materials for a mid layer could be synthetic or fleece. Just no cotton – once cotton gets wet, like getting covered in sweat, it will take a long time to dry. You might even find a vest to be a great mid layer option. It keeps your core warm and toasty while allowing your arms to have more mobility and fresh air.
Your insulation layer can be a thicker, insulated jacket like a down puffy. This layer can be used on its own when you need a little extra insulation when stopping for a snack break or if you need more warmth on your body underneath your outer layer.
Last, but not least, your Outer Layer is a shell that helps keep the wind, rain and snow out. This should be a waterproof layer like a rain jacket. To determine whether your jacket can handle a hurricane or a steady drizzle, look at the water resistant rating. A rating of up to 10K is enough to handle light to average rain for a short amount of time. Ratings between 10K and 15K can handle a moderate amount of rain for much longer, and jackets rated between 15K and 20K or higher are serious shells for heavy, intense rain over a prolonged period. You can also opt for a material like GORE-TEX to stay dry and breathable in the wettest of conditions.
You can wear a base layer underneath your usual walking trousers too or you can buy fleece-lined trousers, especially for winter.
Upgrade your socks to a winter pair or add a sock liner so that you get the extra layer on your feet too.
Gloves and Nordic Walking can be a tricky dilemma. If you use a strapless pole then you can use a thicker glove. But if you prefer a strapped pole then you need a thin glove to fit underneath your strap. Thin thermal gloves are perfect or for wet weather then you can’t beat Sealskinz. Sealskinz also do waterproof socks for those downpour days.
Hats – you lose a lot of heat through your head so a warm beanie or one of our fabulous NWW BIG BOBBLE HATS are perfect.
Buff or neck gaiters are amazingly versatile and offer warmth in winter by stopping drafts and can be frozen in summer to keep you cool. Try one of our NWW ones – available in 2 colourways! They can also be easily made into a hat or headband.
What about ICE?
Obviously if it’s too risky to go ahead we will cancel our walks. But there are a number of adaptations you can make to your kit to give yourself some confidence.
So as we head through winter and into 2023 make a resolution to walk WHATEVER THE WEATHER and you will be surprised at the many benefits that all-weather Nordic Walking can bring.
NORDIC WALKING WATFORD