Assiginack residents learn benefits of urban poling

A group of urban polers takes to the fields to enjoy monthly group classes Assiginack Family Health Team.

by Laurel LeConte,

Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with the MHC Diabetes Training and Care Centre

MANITOWANING—The MHC Diabetes Training and Care Centre recently partnered with Trails4Life to introduce urban poling to older adults in Manitowaning. The local diabetes education program presents monthly group classes at the family health team in Manitowaning and is always looking for something new related to diabetes self-care to share with program participants. The program coordinator of the diabetes education program and Trails4 life manager recently connected to offer an introductory class in Manitowaning.

Urban poling, also called Nordic walking, is fitness walking with specially designed poles. Compared to regular walking, Nordic walking involves applying exertion to the poles using the arms with each stride. Nordic walkers use more of their entire body (with greater intensity) and receive fitness building stimulation not present in normal walking. Instructor Louise Hickey explained how Nordic walking can burn up to 46 percent more calories than walking without the poles. She also explained the various upper body muscles used in Nordic walking that are not usually engaged in regular walking.

These health benefits are especially relevant for people with diabetes. It is well-known that aerobic exercise, such as any type of walking, causes body muscles to be more sensitive to insulin circulating in the bloodstream. Participating in an activity such as Nordic walking, which uses the major muscles groups for a minimum of 10 minutes at a time, can actually reduce insulin resistance and have a blood sugar lowering effect for up to 24 hours.

An Assiginack senior receives pointers on the fine art of urban poling as part of a new partnership between the Manitoulin Health Centre Diabetes Training and Care Centre and Trails4Life.
An Assiginack senior receives pointers on the fine art of urban poling as part of a new partnership between the Manitoulin Health Centre Diabetes Training and Care Centre and Trails4Life.

The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends individuals with diabetes should aim to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise each week (example 30 minutes, five days per week) The entire group of participants agreed that urban poling was a very fun, social and effective way to get some of this beneficial physical activity.

The MHC Diabetes Training and Care Centre will be offering a second introductory class on urban poling next month. Participants should meet at the Assignack Family Health Team at 11 am on Wednesday, October 7. Please call Christy Deschamps to register 705-368-2300 ext. 2415

Trails4Life is a partnership of the  Sudbury & District Health Unit, The City of Greater Sudbury and Rainbow Routes Association.  It is provincially funded to provide physical activity opportunities to seniors. Trails4Life provides urban poling, snowshoeing and cycling classes in Sudbury, Espanola, Massey and Manitoulin Island. If you are interested in organizing a class in your community, please contact Mike Moore at mike.moore@greatersudbury.ca