Teens in ball gowns and tuxedos tackling the Lambeth Walk, Salty Dog Rag, the Tango and the Waltz! They're stepping back in time, dancing the dances of their parents' and grandparents' day. Why?

Is dancing these "old" dances a history or social studies activity for students in Finland's high schools? Or does it fall under physical education?

Ballroom dancing is certainly popular in the USA - at least as a spectator sport, judging by the ratings of the TV show "Dancing with the Stars".

Not for fun only, ballroom dancing gets you moving and is a good way to stay in shape and lose weight - remember Marie Osmond when she started the season! And how about Kirsti Alley? Mind you, they did more than the waltz to slim up.

And how about the First Lady of the United States, president Obama's wife Michelle? She's been working a national program to fight childhood obesity with the slogan "Let's Move!"

Seems the USA isn't the only country having to deal with a growing obesity health issue; Finland has been fighting the problem since 2005, when health professionals warned that "the increase in obesity among Finnish children and youth is seen as a major public health problem." (Helsingin Sanomat 6.4.2005).

Not sure how fit the classic waltz will get you...Finnish schools might do well to add some sassy Latin American dance classes to the curriculum! That'll get 'em movin'!

What is Air Guitar...it's big in Finland!!!
"Playing air guitar is a form of dance and movement in which the performer pretends to play rock or heavy metal-style electric guitar, including riffs, solos, etc. Playing an air guitar usually consists of exaggerated strumming and picking motions and is often coupled with loud singing or lip-synching. Air guitar is generally used in the imaginary simulation of loud electric guitar music." (excerpted from Wikipedia)

...and what do Utubers think of all these gyrating gen-iuses?
As one viewer put it: "Well, can someone explain to me, and I know this may sound really dumb, but...why can't they just use all this energy to put into playing a real guitar?"

  • Cross-country skiers do it for summer training.

Because of the extra involvement of muscles involved in applying force to the poles at each stride, leading to higher oxygen intake and more calories burned (up to 20% more than walking), Nordic Walking has been described by some as “Walking Aerobics”. It is an excellent cross-training exercise. You can easily reach 75% max. heart rate, and easily stay in your fitness zone.

  • Scientific research suggests that everyone can benefit physically from the exercise.

In a summary of the research done on the benefits of walking with poles as compared to walking without, Professor Raija Laukkanen (Director of Exercise Science at Polar Electro Oy, Finland) concluded that “walking with poles improves mainly aerobic fitness, muscular endurance, deceases neck-should area disabilities and pain, and can have positive effects on mood state. In order to improve muscle power, uphill walking is required. Pole walking affecting body coordination and motor fitness has not been published. Walking with poles is a safe and fun exercise mode and fits everybody."

  • It’s an affordable, fun, and easy sport if you have the right equipment.

You’ll need just a minimal amount of equipment: Nordic Walking poles with hardened steel tips for use on grass, trails, the beach, and with snow (plus removable rubber tips (paws) for hard surfaces); comfortable demi-gloves. No club membership; no ‘regular’ classes, though an introductory class is a good idea just so you get the basics down; no special “duds”; and you can walk pretty much anywhere! Using poles to walk up hills reduces the weight on your legs by as much as 25%! People who know say that Nordic Walking is great fun, and feels easier and less tiring than normal walking! Even walking up hills is easy. Makes sense! Using poles to walk up hills actually reduces the weight on your legs by as much as 25%!

  • Nordic Walking is becoming quite the popular sport.

More than seven million Europeans (including 19% of Finns) Nordic Walk daily. According to some estimates Nordic Walking is “the worlds fastest growing exercise method”, and is growing in popularity in USA, Canada, Australia.

  • Exercise “therapy?”

Many chiropractors / physiotherapists / osteopaths and GP's as Nordic Walking an exercise therapy, often following a course of treatment.

  • And how about “Nordic Running!”

It’s true! There’s apparently a whole new breed of “Nordic Runners,” and this is fast becoming a sport in itself.


INWA (International Nordic Walking Association) http://inwa-nordicwalking.com/
CNWA (Canadian)

International Coverage in blogs:

David Downer: http://nordicwalkingnewsblog.blogspot.com/ and www.nordicwalkingecommunity.com
In his Blogger profile, Downer introduces himself as "an INWA Nordic Walking Instructor, author and publisher, who is passionate about serving the worldwide Nordic Walking community and providing quality information and services.”

Claire Walter: http://nordic-walking-usa.blogspot.com/
Walter describes herself as “a Colorado-based, award-winning travel, food and snow sports writer who was just bitten by the blogging bug late in 2006.”

Food For Thought:

"Nowadays popular also in Japan."

“And in China; pole manufacturer Exel is building a new factory there."

Surfing Comments On Nordic Walking:

“My dad came back from Finland with a set of these poles. One day when he was walking around the block one of the neighbors called out ‘Hey Pentti, you forgot your skis.’”

“Anyone in China nordic walking? I am in Shanghai and surrounded by high buildings, where can I nordic walk?”

“Although some people in the US have expressed the opinion that walking with two poles is silly, my question is whether walking with one pole, or a cane looks better? The answer is an unequivocal - No way! “

“As an American Nordic walker who lives in Norway, I see, even here, one of the biggest drawbacks to the sport becoming more widespread: it's seen as an 'old people's' sport.”

“Until Nordic Walking gets itself out of this stereotype and is positioned along the same lines as skiing and other more 'youthful' sports, it won't become anything but the marginal sport it is. It doesn't matter if there is an excess of 'stick choice' or tiffs about nomenclature, once people see what the sport DOES they'll make their own choices. It needs to become trendy. It needs to be marketed as a total body workout, with no mention of age or infirmity. And, after all, it's just walking, it's not brain surgery or anything. Sometimes the Nordic Walking sites make it look so much more complicated than it is.”

Melancholic, pessimistic, taciturn (and 'alcoholic') Finns! I just love this video satire (right: today's "video gem" by KalervoOtso) of the TV news feature done by reporter Morley Safer for the US news program "60 Minutes" in the 1990s.

The usually eminently credible Mr. Safer certainly put together some entertaining, if totally one-dimensional - not to mention, mis-leading - evidence of what he observed to be the pervasive mentality of Finland - my Finland.

Response to the Youtube clip is fierce into the 21st century! :

yankeejake wrote:

"Hahaa, this is some bleep bleep bleep. Bit of truth there too, but I don't agree with any of it. To Merthville I strongly suggest to visit Finland. It aint so bad and we do say "I love u " every now and then. Right now I live in southern Germany and I see no difference. Even the faces on the street and in the underground are the same or even worse occasionally. :D Peace!"

VesqVj wrote:
"Well, I really didn't recognize my country :P, but as you might see, the documentary had only one issue, so it's really one sided view. They also filmed just elder people. And "the backyard of russia", eh..? But yeah, a lot was true in this clip."

talvikki81 wrote:
"Wow...filmed in the early 90s. A bit of a biased report from 60 minutes! It's not all doom and gloom, Finland is a gorgeous place, we just like our privacy--and we never say I love you! All my American friends are horrified when I tell them my parents have never said it to me :P. We know it without having to say it."


Hey - I just got this sinking feeling that maybe I was reading something into our "video gem" that wasn't there! Maybe that little guy and girl practising the tango really were feeling terribly melancholic and pessimistic, and "gloomy!" Sure fooled me if that's true!

Then there's the fact that I'm a Finn, and I say "I love you" quite easily to people I love (mind you, my dad found hugs distasteful...or was he just shy, as Safer might say?); still, that proves my point, doesn't it, and that of many of the commentators on the Safer video! You can't paint the whole of Finland - or the whole of any country or nationality one color - any way you look at it!

Video Gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0E7CzrpCBU