Local NHS staff hitting their stride with Nordic walking


The South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is launching a Nordic walking group to encourage staff and service users to boost their mental wellbeing through exercise.

The Trust provides specialist mental health and learning disability services throughout Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield and employs 2300 staff.

Nordic walking is an exciting new outdoor walking technique using specially designed walking poles and is one of the fastest growing recreational fitness sports in the world.

Originating from summer training for cross-country skiers, Nordic walking works your upper and lower body at the same time. It strengthens the back, legs and arms, and reduces neck and shoulder tension – all this while improving general health and wellbeing.

Exercise intensity is determined by upper body effort so people of differing fitness levels can walk and talk together while working to their own level with Nordic Walking.

Because of the different levels and individual programmes Nordic walking is appropriate for rehabilitation, health purposes, weight management, improving physical condition, relaxing and boosting mental wellbeing.

Although you are using more muscles and doing more exercise, the effort is spread across your whole body and, therefore, Nordic Walking can actually feel easier and less tiring than normal walking.

The group has been developed by the Trust’s principal physiotherapist Margaret Freeburn, who is also a local champion for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s ‘move for health’ campaign. In her role Margaret encourages staff and service users to improve their health and mental wellbeing by taking regular exercise.

Physiotherapists recommend that adults exercise at moderate intensity for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, but this could be broken up into three or four smaller chunks. Just being a little more active throughout the day can benefit your health.

Margaret said, "We can all improve our physical and mental health through exercise and healthy lifestyle choices and Nordic walking is a perfect example of this. Although it requires some skill it’s a relatively easy way to enjoy exercise either as a group or individually and people of all levels of fitness and abilities will be encouraged to join in.

"As a therapy team we are always looking for new ways to encourage and motivate service users into achieving healthier lifestyle choices through both practical and educational sessions. We feel that with the right support and encouragement Nordic walking will be a popular way to engage service users and staff in making positive changes to their mental and physical wellbeing. "

Margaret Freeburn and Nicola Peters, a health and exercise practitioner at the Trust, are now fully qualified Nordic walking instructors and health care assistant Alison Collings who has a certificate in assisting the leaders, will deliver this fun, exciting and refreshing form of exercise.

Local NHS staff hitting their stride with Nordic walking

time to read: 2 min