Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Mighty Nordic Pole Walker Conquers Her World

Winter continues in a mild vein, a few cold days, a tiny bit of snow, and NO shovelling. Yay!

My own cold is gradually receding, but still there. The day I wake up with unplugged ears will be a major turning point.

Now Hapi is limping. Can't see anything, her paws look fine and when I palpate her leg she doesn't wince or pull back. In the morning the limp is almost non-existent but by evening she hobbles like an old lady. I'm thinking it's muscular or tendons. I am trying to cut back on her walks but it's hard to do, she loves her walk no matter what. Today I am going to resist her forlorn look and not walk her at all. Poor Hapi.

In January I tried to sign up for Triple-A (Acadia Active Aging), a Department of Kinesiology exercise program for older adults that some of my friends are raving about. However they were not accepting any newcomers because the people already in the program are not dropping out, they love it too much. But the woman running the program urged all of us who applied to participate in her new study on Nordic Pole Walking for Elders. I wasn't really interested but applied to the study anyway. Whew, talk about changing your life!

The initial assessment was pretty rigourous: how many sit-ups, how many push-ups, how long on a treadmill, how high you could jump, and a couple of other things, along with an extensive questionnaire covering health history, mental health and attitudes toward aging. Then a two-hour workshop on how to use the poles, a schedule of daily walks, and a set of free poles for the duration of the walk (unfortunately we don't get to keep them forever).

I have to say that walking with the poles is transforming, they are quite amazing. Basically, they transform you from a person to a dog: you lose your hands but you gain two more feet. I walk twice as fast, I easily traverse icy ground without cleats and steep hills are a snap. My arms are getting a serious workout, I can feel muscles I didn't know I had. They told us in the workshop that the poles take up to 30% of your weight off of your legs, which means less stress on arthritic joints.

Hapi was scared of the poles at first, she seemed to think I was going to whack her with them, but she's used to them now. I can walk as fast as her!

I am keeping an eye out for poles to buy for myself after this study is over. The great thing about pole walking is that you can do it any time of the year. My one and only complaint about the poles is that on really cold days I wear mittens over my gloves and it takes forever to get the hand straps over the mittens. I dare not take the poles off. My way around that I think is going to be not to use the hand straps on those days. Not strictly kosher but better than nothing.

I signed up for a one day workshop in Fair Isle mittens at Gaspereau Valley Fibres, I already know how to do Fair Isle knitting but being self-taught there are always things you can learn from an expert on how to do it properly, and besides, the mittens look wonderful (follow the link and scroll down about 3/4 of the page).

Yesterday I went to the shop to pick up the kit for the workshop and browse the shop. I ended up buying some Fleece Artist yarn on sale and a set of fleece soles to make slippers from. They are real fleece, leather on one side wool fleece on the other, cut into sole shape with holes punched around the edge. They come with a pattern for knitting the uppers to the soles. You can get them in every size from toddler to adult male.

The yarn I bought is not bulky enough for the slippers but I already have some suitable yarn for that. I got two skeins in slightly different colour ways, my plan is for a pair of socks in slightly different colours. Some day.

I went to the shop with a friend who wants to learn to knit. She has limited vision but is keen to learn, and she already has a project in mind. When we arrived at the shop we told the woman there the parameters: impaired vision, absolute beginner, specific project, acceptable colour range. She was immediately able to select an appropriate yarn which my friend was very happy with. She also selected the appropriate needles (in this case, a circular needle) and told my friend approximately how many stitches to cast on for the project.

After that we went for lunch at the Port Pub and bought some beer from brewmaster Randy to take home with us. Then we took our dogs for a walk along the Gaspereau Canal. My friend's dog is a male King Charles Cavalier who has a mad crush on Hapi. It is quite funny because Sidney is no bigger than a cat, Hapi hardly knows he exists. Sidney was in seventh heaven following Hapi along the canal trail, his tiny tail wagging just below Hapi's big malamute plume. Earlier, Hapi made Sid's day by chasing him around the dining table, after months of never noticing his existence at all.

Today I am going to the Brownbaggers Lunch at Acadia to hear a talk on Kluscap (often spelled Glooscap) and Wabenaki mythology. Hapi will mope at home.

1 comment:

Barbara Anne said...

How interesting to learn at last why folks in northern climes use poles. Am glad you're feeling better following these walks. Hope Hapi's limp disappears with time and that it's nothing permanently bothersome.

Tomorrow night we are forecast to have our first really cold night and possible snow. Our cherry tree is in full bloom and our daffodils are blossoming, too.

Hope you enjoy the Fair Isle mitten class.