Osteoporsis took the quality of life and dignity from many of the women in my family.
I recall stories of my aunt Hope who spent the later years of her life on a bed with stacks of pillows and could barely lift a spoon without the risk of a fracture. Her cousin Helen, my Nana, was doubled over for years from spinal fractures. She suffered horrible pain and shallow breathing. In her later years she was unable to experience the calming relief that comes from a deep breath.
Helen and Hope were strong women who’s bones weren’t strong enough to support them.
Sadly, osteoporosis is not just a woman’s disease. It is also a serious health issue for men. Did you know, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience an osteoporotic fracture in his/her lifetime?
In the spring of 2012 I was recommended by my doctor not run anymore because of an injury. It awakened in me a heightened awareness that I need to look after my future self, and stay strong on the inside (in all aspects). My concerns are not unfounded: osteoporosis has few or no symptoms and fragility fractures are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
Why have I taken up Nordic walking? It is different from a gentle stroll. It’s challenging, intentional and great for your posture (not to mention the upper arm workout). My motivation is reinforced each week at the training sessions I have attended because I can walk pain free with the sticks and it’s been truly enjoyable to train with such a diverse group of people.
If Nordic Walking (or pole walking) sounds interesting to you there are community groups across Canada. Just be sure to speak with your doctor before trying anything new, including walking, especially if it’s not part of your normal routine.
These are simple things we take for granted most of our lives – eating, breathing, moving. All three have a physical connection to walking. It aids in digestion, increases the efficiency of our heart and lungs to use oxygen, and is a weight-bearing exercise that maintains bone density. Next time you feel stiff from sitting, grab a pair of shoes and go for a walk.