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Nordic Walking and Menopause

Nordic Walking is widely practiced by peri and post menopausal women. 

At Nordic Fitness Ireland over 90% of our clients fall into this category, including one of our instructors, who is able to empathise with the challenges women face at this time particularly in relation to exercise.

A Natural Transition

Menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline, and menstruation stops.

Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.

How does exercise help menopause?

Women experience a variety of symptoms during the menopause ranging from low mood, disturbed sleep, night sweats, joint pains, weight gain to name just a few.

Exercise can have a big impact on hormones.

Taking part in regular, appropriate exercise such as Nordic walking can bring huge benefits.

The key to feeling well and for our bodies to function at their best, is our hormones need to be in balance. As we approach menopause, levels of the main female hormone Oestrogen, start to fluctuate and eventually decline. This gives us a range of physical and emotional symptoms. They can sometimes seem and feel overwhelming or even debilitating.

Our lifestyle – diet, sleep, exercise – can have a hugely beneficial effect on managing our hormones, helping us feel more in control, and also preventing the more severe physical effects on menopause, such as osteoporosis – a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break

An exercise that increases your heart rate, such as Nordic Walking, gives your Oestrogen levels a boost and helps in many ways to improve overall fitness, health and wellbeing. Exercise is also known to increase the release of endorphins in the body which help us feel happy and energised. This can be particularly important during menopause when our mood, emotions and levels of motivation may fluctuate.

Benefits of Nordic Walking for Menopause

Low impact Exercise

Low impact exercises can means exercise  that doesn’t involve putting a lot of strain and weight through your muscles and joints. Nordic walking is gentle on your joints and your pelvic floor and can take up to 20% load of lower limbs. It helps to strengthen muscles, maintain mobility and improve flexibility. 

Weight-bearing Exercise

There is a direct relationship between the lack of oestrogen during menopause and the later development of osteoporosis. Women’s bodies need extra weight-bearing work from mid-life in order to improve bone density and strength. 

Weight-bearing and resistance exercises are the best for your bones. Weight-bearing exercises force you to work against gravity. Nordic walking is the perfect weight-bearing exercise, enabling support but still building strength. There is research to show that pushing on poles can help build bone strength in the forearms.

Improves Sleep

As well as oestrogen levels being boosted when we exercise, the stress hormone cortisol, responsible for regulating sleep, is also released through exercise. This, combined with a natural rise in cortisol levels from our late 40s means that menopausal wake-sleep cycles are often disrupted.

High-intensity exercise actually releases a flood of cortisol into the system, which is the last thing it needs to help with sleep. But Nordic walking can provide us with regular moderate exercise which works to balance cortisol levels, thus promoting better sleep.

Pelvic Floor Benefits

As levels of oestrogen drop, your pelvic floor also becomes weaker and less elastic. Nordic walking focuses on:

1.Core and pelvic floor muscles without you even realising it. Every time you push through your pole you are engaging and strengthening the deep core stabilising muscles that support your pelvic floor. 

2.Active heel-toe roll engages the whole back line of your body and activates your pelvic floor via its connection to your pelvis. 

Improves Wellbeing

Exercise, particularly outdoors, is known for reducing anxiety and improving mood. This along with the social aspect of our walks and classes will help to improve your mood and sense of wellbeing.

The Research

Nordic Walking & Menopause

There have been several research studies demonstrating the positive effects Nordic Walking has on relieving symptoms of menopause.

The impact of Nordic walking on bone properties in postmenopausal women with pre-diabetes and non-alcohol fatty liver disease Xiaming Du, Chao Zhang, Xiangqi Zhang, Zhen Qi , Sulin Cheng and Shenglong Le.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. July 16, 2021

Nordic walking increases circulating VEGF more than traditional walking training in postmenopause P. Izzicupo,M. A. D’Amico,A. Di Blasio,G. Napolitano,A. Di Baldassarre &B. Ghinassi Pages 533-539 | Received 02 Aug 2017, Accepted 09 Aug 2017, Published online: 17 Sep 2017 Accessed 24 Aug 2022

Effect of a 4-week Nordic walking training on the physical fitness and self-assessment of the quality of health of women of the perimenopausal age
Mariola Saulicz,1,2 Edward Saulicz,2,3 Andrzej Myśliwiec,3 Tomasz Wolny,2,3 Paweł Linek,corresponding author3 Andrzej Knapik,4 and Jerzy Rottermund5. Published online 2015 Jun 22. Accessed 24 Aug 2022.

More Benefits of Nordic Waking

All walking is excellent for everyone; however, research demonstrates that Nordic Walking has several additional benefits.

Significant increase in oxygen consumption by 20% compared to normal walking, with increased calorie expenditure and heart rate compared to normal walking.  Perceived exertion did not change with Nordic walking and the increase in cardiovascular expenditure. (Church et al 2002, Kocur et al 2009, Schiffer et al 2009)

Walking distance and speed have also been shown to be increased with Nordic walking by up to 30%. (Oakley et al, 2008, Breyer et al, 2010 and Mannerkorpi et al 2010)

Nordic walking was 106% more efficient than normal walking in improving gait speed among the elderly. (Figueiredo et al 2013)

Nordic walking provided a larger improvement in upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility in older adults compared to normal walking and band-based resistance exercises. (Takeshima et al 2013)

Nordic walking significantly improved walking distance in clients with intermittent claudication. (Spafford, C., Oakley, C., Beard, J.D. 2014)

Nordic walking was superior to standard cardiac rehabilitation care in improving functional capacity and other important outcomes in patients with heart failure. (Keast et al 2013)

Health benefits of Nordic walking: a systematic review Tschentscher M, Niederseer D, Niebauer J. Am J Prev Med 2013 Jan;44(1):76-84.

The impact of Nordic walking on bone properties in postmenopausal women with pre-diabetes and non-alcohol fatty liver disease Xiaming Du, Chao Zhang, Xiangqi Zhang, Zhen Qi , Sulin Cheng and Shenglong Le.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. July 16, 2021

Nordic walking and its clinical benefits in different disorders Shailendra KapoorPage 1676 | Published online: 25 Jan 2013 Accessed 28 July 2022

Long-term effects of high-intensity interval training, moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training and Nordic walking on physical and mental health in patients with coronary artery disease T. Terada. Accessed July 28 2022

The effects of pole walking on arm lymphedema and cardiovascular fitness in women treated for breast cancer: a pilot and feasibility study Carlotta Jönsson , RPT, MSc &Karin Johansson , RPT Pages 236-242 | Published online: 31 Oct 2013 Accessed 28 July 202

Nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. Takeshima N, Islam MM, Rogers ME, Rogers NL, Sengoku N, Koizumi D, et al. Effects of J Sports Sci Med 2013;12(3):422-30.

Nordic walking increases distal radius bone mineral content in young women Takeru Kato, Toru Tomioka, Takenori Yamashita, Hidehiro Yamamoto, Yasuhiro Sugajima, and Norikazu Ohnishi. Journal of sports Science and Medicine. Pub. Online May 01, 2020

Stick Together: A Nordic Walking Group Intervention for Breast Cancer Survivors Journal of Psychosocial Oncology · March 2015 DOI: 10.1080/07347332.2015.1020465 · Source: PubMed

Want to know more?

Our classes and walks are lead by our instructor, Joanne, who is a retired nurse, with a passion for helping people like you get the best from your exercise programme.

To find out more about what we can offer you call or email Joanne:

 TEL:  +353876936903


Join a Wellbeing Walk

Why not join us for a rejuvenating well-being walk, in Dromore Woods, on World Menopause Day, October 18th, where we’ll harness the therapeutic benefits of Nordic walking to support you during this important phase of life?