Urban poling is neither new nor complicated – it’s simply walking with the addition of upper body strengthening and it is something that is on the rise in Lacombe and area.
Urban poling is the act of using ski poles to accommodate balance and lessen tension on the lower body, while providing the upper body a workout during a walk.
Heather Mielke, an exercise specialist with the Wolf Creek Primary Care Network (PCN), has been teaching urban poling for years but is now facilitating a class through the PCN. “Urban poling has been popular in Europe for decades and it’s becoming more popular here. You can burn more calories walking with poles, because you use your upper body muscles that you don’t use when you walk without the poles,” Mielke said.
“One of the benefits I’ve seen with the particular clients that I’m currently working with is that there is reduced stress in their lower body. People with arthritis and joint replacements, especially in their lower body, really feel the difference. We can get them off and walking better than without the poles.
“It works your core muscles, and can help improve posture. People often find when they get comfortable with the technique they can walk faster and further with less effort.”
Mielke organizes two different classes – one for fitness (Mondays) and one for a sort of body rehabilitation (Tuesdays). The latter class focuses on people who have chronic health issues, such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, balance issues, arthritis and more.
“I run two different classes on different days to accommodate the physical differences. That works out very well and I’m finding that people in the rehab class are seeing improvements in their posture, they are walking with more ease and you can really see the results there,” Mielke said.
Mielke has been facilitating the program through the PCN since May of this year. She will host the classes until late August, but said she hopes to work in some early fall classes, weather dependent.
“Anybody can join, and I’ve kept it quite casual, where people have brought friends so the group has really grown. That’s great because we’re just improving access to one more form of physical activity,” she said.
“Everyone has seen someone doing it and now it’s becoming more popular. We’re seeing more people do it and are getting less funny looks. We’re also getting asked, where are your skis? Do you know it’s not snowing?”
Register through the Lacombe Physiotherapy Clinic, or by contacting Mielke at 403-782-1408.