AN outdoor work-out could see people walking into a new fitness regime in a free festival.
The Nordic Walking Festival will be held at Druridge Bay Country Park to showcase one of the region’s fastest growing fitness activities.
Nordic walking, which is described as cross-country skiing on foot, is an enhancement of an ordinary stroll, using special poles to propel walkers forwards and give them a whole body work-out.
The exercise works the upper body, as well as lower limbs, and is estimated to burn 20 per cent more calories than normal walking, but as the effort is spread across the whole body many people find it easier and less tiring.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Health Improvement Practitioner Claire Orange said: “While providing all these health benefits, Nordic walking is also a fun activity that can be done on roads, tracks, in woodland, fields and even on the beach.
“It is a great group activity for people of all ages and ability. I think the key to its success is that you don’t have to be an expert at it — you can take part at your own level.
“If you can walk, you can Nordic walk, so it is an excellent activity for beginners and people returning to exercise.”
The Northumberland festival is part of a national Walk 4 Life weekend, which is part of the Change 4 Life initiative to encourage families to eat well, move more and live longer by making small lifestyle changes.
The event is suitable for adults and children aged six and over, with taster sessions in Nordic walking for beginners and one or two-hour walks for people with some experience of the exercise.
Activities will suit a wide range of fitness levels and are delivered by qualified instructors, including two with particular expertise in working with under 11s. There are also special poles for young people.
Lead Adviser for Walking for Health in Northumberland Alison Carter said: “This event will be a fantastic opportunity for people to have a go at Nordic walking for the first time within the stunning setting of Druridge Bay Country Park.
“It is a great activity which provides virtually a full body work-out, but you actually feel as though you are expending less effort. Those with some experience will also be catered for, with qualified instructors on hand to give advice on technique.”
The festival has been organised by the Northumberland Nordic Walking Network, with representatives from Northumberland Sport, Natural England, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland County Council, North Country Leisure Trust, Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure Trust, Age UK Northumberland, the Friends of Ashington Woods and Shepherds Walks.
Northumberland Sport Chairman Tony Settle said: “We are delighted to support this event as part of our co-ordinated efforts in Northumberland to increase the uptake of a healthier lifestyle.
“Nordic walking is a fantastic new way to get active, either with friends or family, and we encourage everyone to go along to Druridge Bay and give it a go.”
The festival takes place on Saturday, September 24, from 1pm to 4pm. It is free, but car parking charges apply.
People can pre-book a place by visiting www.northumberlandsport.co.uk or calling 01670 542343. Everyone who takes part will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of Nordic walking poles, which have been donated by Barefoot Studios.