Sheridan study to get seniors on the move


The elderly are coming to Sheridan, ski poles in hand.

The Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC) and Nordixx Canada, will be conducting a study of how Nordic pole walking benefits the elderly.

“We’re interested in seeing the effect in older adults, if it will get them more interested in a regular exercise routine,” said Lia Tsotsos, principal researcher and project manager at SERC.

According to Tsotsos, the study will involve at least 15 people over the age of 55 who will be taking to the streets and trails of Oakville with poles provided by Nordixx, free of charge.

For 11 weeks, beginning Sept. 16, the pole walking will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m and 11:30 a.m.

The exercise, which mirrors cross-country skiing, was popularized in Finland in 1974, after being mentioned in a ski sport handbook written by Mauri Repo, former head coach of the Finnish Workers’ Sports Federation.

“It benefits the arms, core and back more than working without poles, while also providing great support for those with mobility problems,” Tsotsos said.

According to Tsotsos the inspiration for the study was a lecture she attended by Klaus Schwanbeck, a German doctor and founder of Nordixx Canada.

Schwanbeck, who died last year, had also appeared on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, with Greg Bellamy, general manager of Nordixx.

“I first got involved in May 2010 after meeting with Dr. Schwanbeck. He was doing a pole walking demonstration at his clinic and I became interested,” Bellamy said.

He was instantly impressed with how easily the activity had taken off in Europe.

“Fifteen million people are doing it in Europe, it’s quite a simple thing to do,” he said.

Many studies have also been conducted all around the world into the benefits associated with the exercise, and the results so convincing that in 2011 Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital implemented a pole walking program for its 10,000 employees, the Globe and Mail reported.

For Tsotsos, the study isn’t for the known health benefits as much as it is about getting people involved.

“We’re taking a more holistic approach. It’s more of a community-based pilot program,” she said.

Although the study itself is focused on those over the age of 55, Tsotsos said that people of all ages can benefit from this simple exercise anyone can do anywhere, even indoors.

“It’s a great opportunity for people in the community to learn about new ways to add to their exercise regimen.”

Sheridan Centre for Elder Research

Nordixx Canada