With its miles of attractive woodland trails and picturesque views, Queen Elizabeth Country Park is a great place to go for a walk.
But if you go down to the woods any time soon you might see people taking part in a walk of a different kind.
Nordic walking instructor Louise Arthur runs taster sessions and four-week beginners’ courses at the country park near Petersfield.
And with the specially-designed walking poles used for the job, Louise and her Nordic walkers aren’t hard to spot.
First developed in Finland in the 1950s as a way to help cross-country skiers maintain their fitness, Nordic walking is now very popular in the UK.
Using the poles works the upper part of the body as well as the legs, making it a full body work-out.
It’s much more full-on than a leisurely stroll, burning up to 46 per cent more calories than ordinary walking.
And the technique also reduces the pressure on knees and joints, making it ideal for those who find running and jogging too high-impact.
‘It’s suitable for all sorts of people,’ explains Louise. ‘If you are fine to walk then Nordic walking turns it into a fitness routine.’
She adds: ‘The poles aren’t walking aids, so if people are very unbalanced and need walking sticks to balance, it wouldn’t be suitable for them. But it’s suitable for everyone else.’
A key part of taking up Nordic walking is learning the technique needed to stay safe and make it as effective as possible.
There’s an art to using the poles but Louise says it’s not hard to pick up once you’ve had a go.
That’s why she runs taster sessions and beginners’ courses. For those who have tried it before, she also organises guided walks using the beautiful country park or Petersfield Heath as her backdrop.
‘It’s a very safe and effective work-out,’ adds Louise. ‘If you enjoy good company and getting out in the fresh air to exercise then you’ll enjoy it.
‘There are some fantastic walks and views at Queen Elizabeth Country Park yet it is right off the A3.’
One-hour taster sessions cost £10. There are still places available on the Wednesday beginners’ course which starts at 6.30pm on June 13 at the country park.
For more information, e-mail Louise at email@example.com or log on to facebook.com/NordicWalkingPetersfield.