Active aging and the benefits of Nordic Walking

 

Nordic Walking in Mallorca, Active ageing, active aging, benefits of Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking in Spain

 

As you probably know by now, the population is getting older in average due to the extension of lifespan. Medicine, food and exercise are the main drivers of this phenomena, leading to fitter and healthier seniors. Todays’ 40-plus generations are either thinking about or actively trying to not become “the oldies that do not participate anymore”. Instead they are more eager, able and willing to continue eating healthy and practicing sports in order to enjoy an interesting social life when they retire: family issues (which can actually be thrilling and demanding), travelling, performing (music, theatre, dance, etc.), studying, (volunteer) working, and many other leisure activities are also a seniors’ thing. This rich social interaction will probably help them to prolong their capabilities in time.

In this post, we want to support the international movement of “Active Aging” by highlighting the benefits of Nordic Walking. To better understand the meaning of active aging, we think that the explanation from the World Health Organisation’s website is very helpful:

“Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both individuals and population groups. Active ageing allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need. The word “active” refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force. Older people who retire from work, ill or live with disabilities can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age. “Health” refers to physical, mental and social well being as expressed in the WHO definition of health. Maintaining autonomy and independence for the older people is a key goal in the policy framework for active aging. Aging takes place within the context of friends, work associates, neighbours and family members. This is why interdependence as well as intergenerational solidarity are important tenets of active aging.”

Now this is where Nordic Walking and Mallorca Hiking have something to contribute. This fantastic sport has got a large number of benefits and it is considered as one of the ideal sports for almost all humans in different ages because of the following facts:

1) Nordic Walking is one of the most effective cardiovascular workouts (together with cross country skiing) because when doing Nordic Walking you use all your major muscle groups in your body.

2) Recent studies by the Cooper institute in Dallas showed that Nordic Walking burned more calories, increased oxygen consumption and can be up to 46% more efficient than normal walking.

3) Nordic walking is great for weight loss as you burn more calories compared to walking without poles.

4) Nordic walking is generally a very “kind” sport for the rest of your body and less stressful for knees, back.. compared to regular walking, jogging or biking.

5) By adding the poles and a correct Nordic walking technique to your walk, you increase the total use of your muscle mass from approximately 70% to 90% while increasing your heart rate significantly.

Nordic Walking Mallorca

Nordic Walking in the woods

Moreover, we need to add another few but very important issues that might lead to a greater popularization of Nordic Walking in the future. The price is not a barrier because if you want to exercise Nordic Walking on a regular basis you only need comfortable sport shoes and a pair of poles, and that’s it! Since you are most likely to be walking in the outdoors (and preferably in the nature), you will receive all the benefits of (hopefully) fresh clean air, sunshine (D vitamine amongst others) and quietness (relaxed mind). Nordic Walking is generally a very safe sport and the risk of injuries is very low. Nordic Walking is also a very social sport as it is often done in pairs or groups (you might even have a Nordic Walking club or association very close to where you live!). It is easy to learn a proper Nordic Walking technique and easy as well to keep it up. It is a sport that is suitable and has got benefits for everyone; from the absolute beginner to the fittest sportsman or woman.

Mallorca, and especially the East part of the island (Llevant), is very attractive for exercising Nordic Walking due to its natural quality, its fantastic landscapes and the fabulous climate. Mallorca Hiking’s guide Nina Harjula is a licensed Nordic Walking instructor from Finland, and she is committed to spread the knowledge and fun of exercising this magical sport in a beautiful natural environment such as the Mediterranean coast can offer.

Practice makes Perfect

Today we revisit the importance of preparation for a hiking or walking holiday. Following these simple, commonsense tips will help ensure you don’t have wasted days because you’ve taken on too much, or because you didn’t realise what is involved – especially if you are not a regular walker. Read on…

Regardless if you are a professional or a novice on a walking holiday, it is still really important to go on a lot of practice hikes before jetting off to your holiday destination. Practice walks serve many purposes: to test new gear and clothing; to know your walking and physical limitations; to master different walking conditions; all are important factors to understand before you embark on a series of long walks.

When starting your build up for your walking holiday, practice walks should start short and gradually increase, so you slowly “break-in” all those rusty muscles.

Pay attention to your body temperature. Use layers of clothing and remove/replace as your temperature increases and decreases on easier and more difficult sections of the walk.

Create awareness to sensations in your feet. Hot spots in your boots can turn into blisters, so stop and adjust your boots/socks/remove stones etc. If your feet get wet, stop to dry them and change your socks. If you are walking with a partner ensure both of you are comfortable about stopping each other if these re-adjustments are necessary. Remember: with walking, prevention is significantly better (and less time consuming/painful) than curing a damaged foot etc.

Keep your back-pack comfortably adjusted. Again, re-adjust straps if they have become too loose or are cutting into your arms. This may also be due to the contents not being well distributed. Try to keep the heaviest items close to your back. Try to create a set place for each item in your pack and return it to this place to maintain a comfortable walking position for your backpack.

Get used to having regular drink and snack breaks to maintain your energy levels. Little and often is much easier on your digestion and converts quicker into energy, as opposed to large meals which take energy to digest and can be uncomfortable for walking afterwards.

Your clothes are a key part of your comfort when walking for several hours, so practice walks will let you know how comfortable each item is. Trousers/shorts may rub on your thighs; upper layers may be too tight when you get warmer – all this can then be adjusted or rectified prior to flying off on your holiday.

Although none of our guided walks require large backpacks with sleeping bags etc (the luxury of boutique accommodation and good restaurants is more our style than tents and camp food!!) an awareness of your body and your clothing will make your holiday much more enjoyable.

A little preparation and thought and a bit of planning really help you get the maximum benefit and enjoyment from our holidays. We recommend these simple practice routines to all our clients – and you’ll be happy you did them when you arrive.

Blossom Fever: guided walking holidays in Mallorca

almond blossom mallorca hikingFebruary is a fabulous time of year in Mallorca, and it is when the almond blossom is at its best. Mallorca is famous for it’s almonds and every year the island comes alive with landscapes of blossoming almond trees – and thousands of visitors flying in to marvel at it’s beauty…

Almonds are a major part of Mallorcan life. They’re an important locally grown food product and a hugely popular ingredient in many traditional local dishes, both sweet and savoury. They’re also a much-loved part of the island’s winter landscape when the almond trees burst into white and pink blossom in late January.

What better way to enjoy the vibrant colours and beauty of the island at this time, than to get outdoors with a guided walking holiday? We can arrange a “made to measure” break – a long weekend, a week – just for you and your group, or if you’re traveling alone you can join our popular annual Blossom Fever: 8-day guided walking holiday in Mallorca

This week-long itinerary is a good example of the kind of walking holiday we can organize for you at this lovely time of year. We combine the delights of the Sóller valley with walking in some of the best spots for almond blossom. You’re based in the pretty village of Fornalutx, just outside Sóller, and three of our walks are in this area – walking straight out of your hotel door. The other two are at the heart of the best almond blossom – a real treat.

Walking Itinerary

Graded: Green Boot (“Easy” enough for everyone to enjoy!)

Your walking itinerary includes 5 days’ guided walking. One day we walk around the Sóller valley visiting some of the surrounding villages and other highlights; another day we set off down to the port of Soller and the Muleta lighthouse and then on to Deia, a lovely village further along the coast (see W-NW11 for more details)… and no stay in the Sóller valley is quite complete without having tackled the spectacular Barranc (gorge) of Biniaraix – either in one direction or the other – see W-NW08.

During the course of the week, we’ll already have seen a lot of almond blossom in different areas, but for the other 2 walks on your itinerary we go further afield to visit the inland village of Es Capdella, which in our opinion, has the best almond blossom on the island. Here, we’ll meander through the village and along the surrounding lanes and visit a lovely old finca with a typical Mallorcan courtyard (see W-SW05). Another of our favourite walks for this time of year is walk Ref. W-NW01 where we pass a fabulous old senyorial manor house – formerly owned by Richard Branson – which is surrounded by terraces of almond trees.

Hotel

For this itinerary we usually like to be based in a delightful, 8-bedroom hotel in the centre of Fornalutx (see Ref. A-NW04 for details), but if you’d prefer us to organize a tailor-made holiday for you, there are plenty of others to choose from (see Accommodation).

Valentine’s Day

Alternatively, Valentine’s day is always a perfect excuse to treat yourself and your partner to a special, and romantic weekend away. So why not try something different this year – take a short flight to this sunny Mediterranean island, enjoy some lovely easy walks among the blossom, and indulge yourselves with champagne and the luxury of your hotel…. the perfect recipe for a romantic weekend getaway!

However you decide to enjoy fabulous February in Mallorca, make sure you have plenty of memory sticks for your camera and be prepared for some incredible landscape collages of vibrant colours – an unforgettable experience!

To review prices and what is included in our guided walking holidays please visit our web page at MallorcaHiking.com

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10 After Hike Recovery Tips

Recovering after a Hike Mallorca HikingAfter our Resident’s Club Inaugural Walk we thought it would be helpful to look at the “After Walk” routine that will ensure you are fighting fit for our next outing! Lots of attention is usually given to preparation for long walks – (we have dedicated several articles to it in this blog!), but just as important is the “winding down” after a long hike. Rest and recovery is an essential part of any excercise routine. Your AfterHike recovery routine will ensure you take the máximum effect physically from this great excercise and ensure you are in good condition for your next excursion. Unfortunately, many people do not utilice a post excercise routine and lose some of the physical effect of a great walk . Here are some tips to get your post-walk plans on track.

Why Recovery after Hiking is important

Recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. This is even more important after a testing, intensive hike for several hours. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building.

10 Ways To Reward your Body after Hiking

There are as many routines and methods of recovery you can apply that would be interusable for many excercise routines. The following are some of the most commonly recommended by the experts.

  1. Cool Down Cooling down simply means slowing down (not stopping completely) after exercise. Continuing to move around at a very low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes after finishing your walk helps remove lactic acid from your muscles and may reduce muscles stiffness. warming up and cooling down are more helpful in cooler temperatures.
  2. Replace Fluids You lose a lot of fluid during a long Hike and ideally, you should be replacing it during the walk, but filling up after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function.
  3. Eat Properly. A long walk will deplete your energy stores, you need to refuel to replace this energy, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. Ideally, you should try to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your hike and make sure you include some high-quality protein and complex carbohydrate.
  4. Stretch. After a tough hike, consider gentle stretching. This is a simple and fast way to help your muscles recover.
  5. Rest. Time is one of the best ways to recover (or heal) from just about any illness or injury and this also works after a long, hard hike. Your body has an amazing capacity to take care of itself if you allow it some time. Resting and waiting after a testing, long hike allows the repair and recovery process to happen at a natural pace. It’s not the only thing you can or should do to promote recovery, but sometimes doing nothing is the easiest thing to do.
  6. Perform Active Recovery. Easy, gentle movement improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. In theory, this helps the muscles repair and refuel faster.
  7. Have a Massage. Massage feels good and improves circulation while allowing you to fully relax. You can also try self-massage here’s a link to a Foam Roller Exercises for Easing Tight Muscles – you can do this for free!.
  8. Take an Ice Bath. Great for the summer, ice massage or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) to recover faster, reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury. The theory behind this method is that by repeatedly constricting and dilating blood vessels helps remove (or flush out) waste products in the tissues.
  9. Get lots of Sleep. While you sleep, amazing things are taking place in your body. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair.
  10. Avoid Overdoing your Hike . One simple way to recovery faster is by ensuring your hike is within your capacity and build up gradually to harder walks. Trying to do too much immediately without a gradual aclimatisation for your body and muscle groups will limit your fitness gains from your hikes and undermine your recovery efforts.

Listen to Your Body for a Faster Recovery

The most important thing you can do to recovery quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from walking altogether. If you are feeling strong the day after a long walk or hike, you don’t have to force yourself to go slow. If you pay attention, in most cases, your body will let you know what it needs, when it needs it. The problem for many of us is that we don’t listen to those warnings.

So, keep this advice list in mind after each of our Hikes and you will be fitter and stronger for our next excursión!

Gourmet Walking Holiday: Olives & Fiestas

Gourmet holiday mallorca hikingA perfect opportunity to shake off the Winter blues and treat yourself to a gourmet adventure through the Olive groves and fiestas of Mallorca…

January is a very busy month in Mallorca with the Olive harvests and Fiestas.  Every year at this time, we offer a week’s magical Mallorcan experience that combines an insight into the local production of olives and olive oil, and 2 of the island’s favourite “fiestas”, San Antonio (17th January) and San Sebastian (20th January). These fiestas are enthusiastically celebrated with music and street antics, bonfires and barbecues, fireworks and processions…. This is a fantastic time to be on the island, as these exuberant celebrations involve ancient and very traditional customs (as well as a lot of fun!), and we see the island in a very special light…

The location is the north west of the island around the beautiful area of Fornalutx. Just outside Sóller, Fornalutx  is one of the prettiest villages on the island. It has a small central square, and narrow cobbled streets full of character and charm – it has even won awards for Mallorca’s “best kept” village. It is within easy walking distance of central Sóller, and also has a few cafes and restaurants of its own, a bank, post office and other essentials.

The village is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks and is a truly spectacular location for a walking holiday.

The History of Olive Oil production in Mallorca

It is said that olive trees (Olea europaea) were first introduced by the Phoenicians and Greeks to the Spanish mainland, and from there they eventually reached Mallorca. After the re-conquest of the island in 1229 by Jaime I, olive oil was exported from Mallorca to Northern Africa together with other agricultural products. For centuries, olive oil played a key role in the island’s economy, both as a basic ingredient in the natives’ diet and as a product for trading and exportation. Olive oil became Mallorca’s leading export product during the first half of the 19th century, accounting for up to 80% of the island’s total exports in monetary terms. Mallorca’s olive oil achieved recognition outside the island in the late 19th century, when the second prize at a gastronomic award for quality oils held in Catalunya went to a Mallorcan oil produced by one of the local olive mills.

Walking Itinerary

You start your holiday with an opportunity to participate in something really special – the traditional Mallorcan methods of olive oil production. After breakfast on your first day, we walk to the neighbouring village of Biniaraix, where we visit the 600 year old olive farm of Ca’n Det. Here we pick our own olives and then take them to the local 15thC press. While our olives are being processed, we enjoy a deliciously typical Mallorcan lunch of Pamb Oli (featuring plenty of olive oil, of course!) before collecting our own individually labelled bottles of oil made from the olives we picked earlier!

In the afternoon, we walk back to your hotel via some of the pretty villages in the area, before getting ready for a gastronomic evening in Palma (30 minutes by car). Michelin star chef, Marc Fosh and his team, will demonstrate the art of Cooking with Olive Oil… to include recipes such as chocolate olive oil mousse! We get to sample and enjoy all their delicious and creative dishes, while sipping some Mallorcan wine to accompany them… This is a real treat!

The next day, after a leisurely start, we set off from your hotel on today’s walk – a one and half hour walk downhill through some of the most ancient and spectacular olive trees in the valley. We lunch with Maria and Guillermo at their 17th century farmhouse, Balitx d’Avall. The menu will be either roast home-grown goat, or another Mallorquin speciality, rabbit with onions. We have time to relax or explore their 13thC tower, the chapel, the ancient olive press and Guillermo’s eccentric art collection before walking back to Fornalutx and your hotel.

Whichever day of the week the fiestas fall on, the eve of the fiesta of San Antonio (the patron saint of animals) sees the start of the celebrations. A huge fire and barbecue is set up in the main square of Soller, where we barbecue local sausages, sobrasada and other meats, accompanied by the music of the Ximbomba!

The next day after breakfast we walk into Soller, where the town celebrates the fiesta of San Antonio with a charming ceremony of blessing the local animals. From here, we set off on our walk down to the port of Soller and the Muleta lighthouse and then on to Deia, a delightfully pretty village further along the coast – see W-NW11 for more details.

During the course of your week’s holiday, we do another excellent walk in the Sóller area (see W-NW12), and then we go a bit further afield to visit one of the island’s most historic sites – the ruined Castle of Alaro, from where we experience some of the island’s history, and get sweeping views of Palma and much of the rest of the island (see W-NW03). We also visit Valldemossa and walk the so-called “Archduke’s Bridleway” – a classic Mallorcan hike and an insight into one of the island’s historical figures W-NW10. On each walking day we have a picnic lunch at one of our special picnic spots along the way.

The 20th January is the fiesta of San Sebastian, which is celebrated with spectacular fireworks in Palma. This is well worth a visit and a good opportunity for a stroll around the beautiful old town of Palma as well.

Hotel

Your base for this holiday is a delightful, 8-bedroom hotel in the centre of Fornalutx (see Ref. A-NW04 for details). You are very well looked after by your extremely hospitable hosts – their breakfasts are legendary and so are their evening meals.

The hotel is centrally heated and at this time of year there is always a fire roaring in the grate of the sitting room. This is a warm, friendly, cosy and exceptionally welcoming place to stay.

The price

If you would like to use this itinerary as the basis for a tailor-made walking holiday for you and your party, please contact us. The price will depend on the number of people in your party, how long you stay and other factors.

If you’d like to join one of our small group holidays, then please see the holiday itinerary on our website to check the price and the next dates scheduled (at the bottom of the page).

Please note that this is a popular walking holiday, and as our tour groups are small (8-10 people) it fills very quickly. We recommend you book early.

Your Body’s reactions to Walking

your body's reaction to walking

All throughout this week on our Facebook and Twitter accounts (click the links and follow, please!) you will find many Walking Facts and how it can positively affect your life and health.

Here we have your body’s account of what is happening within – from taking that first step, to getting well into your stride. This analysis has been researched by US-based exercise physiologist Martica Heaner, PhD – so comes with a medical seal of authenticity!

So, for a minute-by-minute run-down of what your body does when you’re working on your walking, read on:

Minutes 1 to 5  Your first few steps trigger your cells to release energy-producing chemicals that fuel your walking. Your heart rate revs from about 70 to 100 beats per minute (bpm), boosting blood flow and warming muscles.

Any stiffness subsides as joints release lubricating fluid to help you move more easily. Once you get moving, your body burns about 20 kJ (5 cal) per minute (its resting rate is just 4 kJ per minute). Your body needs more fuel and starts to draw on its carbohydrate and fat stores.

Minutes 6 to 10 Your heartbeat increases from 100 to approximately 140 bpm. As you pick up the pace, you burn up to 25 kJ (6 cal) per minute. The body then releases chemicals that expand blood vessels to counter the slight rise in blood pressure; this release brings more blood and oxygen to working muscles.

Minutes 11 to 20 Your body temperature keeps rising, and as blood vessels near the skin expand to release heat, you start to sweat. As your walk becomes brisker, you burn up to 30 kJ (7 cal) a minute and start to breathe harder. Hormones such as adrenalin and glucagon rise to release fuel to the muscles.

Minutes 21 to 45 Feeling invigorated, you start to relax as your body releases tension. This is partly thanks to a dose of feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins. As more fat is burned, insulin (which helps store fat) drops—excellent news for anyone battling excess weight or diabetes.

Minutes 46 to 60 Your muscles may feel fatigued as your body reduces its carb stores. As you cool down, your heart rate decreases and your breathing slows. You’re burning fewer kilojoules, but more than you were before you began. And your kilojoule burn remains elevated for up to 1 hour.

And all that in just 60 minutes – just think of the benefits of spreading that over a week or two in the idyllic island setting of Mallorca. Don’t delay, head over to our website now to start planning that well deserved break – your body will thank you!

Great outside, great inside – Hiking and Gourmet food – enjoy!

Mallorca Hiking Gourmet restaurantsTaking a Walking/Hiking holiday or short break is of course a healthy, refreshing way of really appreciating the beauty and sights of a new environment. As we mentioned in our previous post, there are many advantages of doing this with a local guide. But one, very significant advantage that will actually be more relevant AFTER the walking is knowing the best places to EAT – and in Mallorca you are spoilt for choice.

Mallorca through the centuries has always had many cultural influences – many times brought by conquering armies and more recently through a more civilised source with tourism. These cultural influences have also brought their culinary influences and Mallorca is now home to hundreds of different styles and tastes from Fast Food to the highest levels of gourmet cuisine.

Five restaurants have been awarded the prestigious Michelin Star in Mallorca for 2011 – two of them being new awards.  But great food is not limited to the excellence of the Michelin chefs. Mallorca has a strong history of excellent food and also a very versatile use of the unlikeliest food items particularly from it’s farming roots of previous centuries.

The pig was and still is a popular ingredient to many local dishes including the now famous sobrasada; the very popular roasted suckling pig and also variations of the Frito Mallorquin which is a descendant of the poorest families’ staple diet in olden days.

Pa amb oli is another Mallorquin favourite with varied platters. These are usually cold dish choices with either a meat or cheese selection (but can also be fish) served with a thinly sliced rustic Mallorcan bread; olive oil; ramallet (spreading) tomatoes, garlic and sea salt. Simply crush the thin skinned ‘ramallet’ tomatoes with a garlic clove, sea salt and a generous glug of olive oil and serve on a slab of rustic bread. A variety of toppings can then be added from slices of locally cured hams, chorizos and sobrasadas or cheese. This meal choice is particularly popular through the summer and can last for hours along with great conversation and some superb Mallorquin wines.

The Mediterranean diet also includes many fresh salads and there are lots of local markets serving a wonderful array of home grown fruits and vegetables. Together with the local olive oil and the now famous Flor de Sal flavoured sea salts from Ses Salines – another great meal combination.

Fresh seafood is also very popular in Mallorca. The fishing ports of Andratx, Soller and Palma itself still holds fresh fish markets daily, direct from the returning fishing boats. The age old custom of the fishermen sitting repairing their nets with the gulls floating overhead still continues today. Everybody has their special fish restaurant to recommend but my favourite (and many others for over 30 years) is Casa Manolo’s in Ses Salines.

Preparing for your visit to Mallorca there are many authoritative web sites now dedicated purely to your gastronomic enjoyment whilst here on the island. Our recommendation for the widest and most current range of information, news and even video interviews with the chefs and owners of the hundreds of venues you can visit is the award winning Sky Blue Mallorca

Do not be daunted by this incredible choice and the gastronomic delights that await you in Mallorca – your guides are well equipped to help you make the best choices during your stay. But we have to warn you – you’ll definitely need to return for more!!