Testimonials – How Nordic walking helped me to breathe better

Every season we like to share a good news story or two as way of inspiring others to take their first steps with us. We also like to remind our Instructors just how much their clients value them!

In this issue as the air becomes damper, we thought we’d focus on a couple of folk who have used Nordic Walking to conquer or manage breathing and lung conditions – read on and be inspired!

Recent reports of how air pollution can cause an increase in heart attacks, strokes and Asthma (BBC 21st October) may put people off going outside and of course we need to be mindful of this factor in built up areas and on certain days where harmful emissions are higher due to weather etc. HOWEVER, there is also a huge amount of research that support the fact that those with breathing difficulties do need to exercise and that walking is recommended. 

Studies show that building overall fitness and the muscles used for breathing will make a huge difference and once people get over the initial fear that exercise makes them more breathless (which is actually a good thing if done gradually in a supportive group)

That’s why we wanted to feature these two Ladies who have managed to push past the fear of being breathless and gained the confidence to work hard enough to transform their health. NWUK Instructors are trained to deliver our Wellbeing programme which includes breathing exercises, functional movement for active ageing and the balance drills that Jenny describes below  – look out for the icon when booking your sessions.

Jenny Frankland (pictured here with the purple coat and headband) was feeling really low and lethargic when she took the plunge and joined her local group WALX Dorset. Battling a lung disease called Sarcoidosis which thankfully has been stable for the last five years she struggled to find an activity she could actually do and also liked to do. Walking was the answer but on her own it was easy not to push herself . “The support and encouragement of the Instructors has made all the difference, they taught me how to breathe well, how to improve balance and strength, how to take things at a pace suitable for me and stayed with me every step of the way on my initial walks. I am now walking at a good pace for a number of miles and even climbing hills I would never thought I could manage” she says. “They have such empathy which I now know is because they themselves have improved their fitness via Nordic Walking and that plus the lovely sociable group full of like minded people makes the walks a pleasure to do. I can’t believe that I now really enjoy this exercise and feel amazing after every walk. I have great plans for the coming year with new goals to achieve on my walks and even more excited to get the next results of my lung function tests which I am certain will show a great improvement.”

Susan, aged 74 – from Lancashire became asthmatic following a lung section operation after being diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2010.  “I joined a local walking group in the hope that the fresh air and exercise would help to improve my breathing, but it wasn’t enough.  Then, in the Summer of 2018, a new Nordic Walking group started in my village.  It sounded interesting; it was more than ‘just walking’; I signed up immediately.  After initial training with my local Instructor Cecilia, I joined as many of the regular Nordic Walks as possible and went walking with my husband.  With Cecilia’s encouragement, hills that I used to struggle to climb became easier by the week and, by Christmas, my blood oxygen levels had risen to 98% from 93% 12 months previously.  I was using my reduced lung capacity much more efficiently and it was all thanks to Nordic Walking.  I recommend anyone who thinks it is impossible because of a lung condition to JUST DO IT. You might have a lot to gain and there are lots of Nordic Walking friends waiting to meet you and drink some coffee at the end of each walk!

OUR TOP TIPS for those who struggle with their breathing…..

  1. Take things slowly and one walk at at a time
  2. Be aware of weather conditions and air quality
  3. Take two steps for every breath in and three for every breath out
  4. Walk with a group and make sure the Instructor knows your limits
  5. NEVER try to keep up if you can’t
  6. If you need to get your breath back, stop and breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose before exhaling through the mouth with your lips pursed. This is far more effective than gasping and taking short breaths.

The biggest tip of all is to keep as active as possible and to get outside whenever the weather and conditions allow!

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