“I couldn’t go back to the trail without my stick! The constant ups and downs with 30 pounds on my back were very hard on my knees, and without a stick they would be unbearable. My hiking stick had become an extension of my hand — I was lost without it.”
My favorite correspondent reported in from Colorado that she’d been hiking an area known as the hogback, a geologic formation that constitutes a precursor to the foothills of the Front Range. Having once lived near the hogback, she knew that in itself would interest me. Then she sweetened the pot.
“A lot of the hikers were using hiking poles,” she said. And no, she confirmed, they weren’t all older hikers. “It was a mix.”
It struck us both ironic that in the fitest state in the nation hikers are quick to use the aid, while here in one of the least fit states we continue to wobble along poleless. One thing those Coloradans may know that we don’t: using poles makes for a better workout.
“Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk — which can help you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout,” according to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski with the Mayo Clinic. “The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.”
I lead a couple of hiking groups, including GetHiking! Triangle. Courtesy of Great Outdoor Provision Co., I keep six loaner hiking poles in my car trunk. Before every hike I announce their availability. On a recent outing with 43 hikers, four took me up on the offer, with two making comments to the effect of, “Guess this makes me old now.”
No, using doesn’t make you old. In fact, it keeps you from getting old, at least parts of you. Other advantages to poles, according to Dr. Laskowski:
The following story, which I wrote for the Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh, originally appeared in those papers on January 10. It appears here in expanded form, with links.
When Sidney Eagles Jr. went in for his annual physical a dozen years back, his physician reminded him that he was overweight, that his blood pressure was high, and that his cholesterol was up there as well. The reminders had become a perennial checkup ritual for Eagles, who at the time was 60 and Chief Judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals.
Happy holidays! Here’s hoping you survive them!
If you’re looking for a time of year that’s hardest on your body, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the one that kicked off with pants-unbuckling Thanksgiving and ends with a cold pack on your head New Year’s Day. Think about the damage alone done by the one-two punch of Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
I wrote the following story for the Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer in Raleigh; it appeared in both papers June 28, 2011. It reruns here, with links.
Yoga helps Darlene Jonas cope with Parkinson’s disease, enables scientist Lynn Conley to sit at his desk for long stretches, lets Bill Glasheen keep playing golf and has helped Nancy Wren cope with the death of her husband. Robin Kneeburg credits yoga with saving her life.