One example is the rehabilitation centre "Frankenklinik” in Bad Neustadt/Saale in Germany where Nordic walking has been part of rehabilitation measures for the last two years. "Nordic walking is a composition of harmonic body movements, bearing a minimal risk of injury,” explains Dr Dietmar Sailer, Medical Director of the clinic. The reason: Nordic Walking is like cross-country skiing without skis. The normal walking movements are supported by two long poles held by the athlete.
According to a study of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, another advantage of this type of sport is an increased burning of fat at a rate that is 50 percent higher than during normal walking. Therefore, Nordic Walking shows excellent therapeutic effects for patients with blood circulation problems, high blood pressure or adiposity.
Since the poles relieve bone structure, especially hip, knee and ankle joint this sport is especially suited for the elderly. But in addition to leg muscles, various others are being challenged in the upper part of the body leading to approximately 90 per cent of the total muscle mass being used during Nordic Walking. The whole skeletal muscles, especially the shoulder and superior back parts, are being exercised.
For that reason, health insurance companies welcome the sport in terms of its positive rehabilitation effects. The training is often financed completely by them. And the German Nordic Walking Association takes care of the instruction of physiotherapists, physicians and gymnasts. The occupational title is Nordic Walking Instructor, but standardised German guidelines for the contents of the schooling do not exist yet.
Nordic Walking was invented in Germany in 2000. That year a total of 50.000 people actively carried on with that sport. In 2004, the number of German Nordic Walkers raised to two million according to the market research institution Growth from Knowledge (GfK).