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How walking can benefit people with axial spondyloarthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis, including people with ankylosing spondylitis

Walking is a simple, free form of exercise

It’s an excellent low impact way of toning your muscles as well as burning some calories.

You can set your own pace with walking according to how you feel day to day and can build up to a full day’s hike if you choose.

Nordic walking

Nordic walking is a much more intensive workout than normal walking and has many health benefits. It uses specially designed poles with a technique similar to the upper body action of classic cross country skiing.  The result is a full body workout, without putting any stress on the joints.

In Nordic walking:

  • The heart rate is higher than when walking normally at the same speed
  • Energy used increases by an average of 20% compared with normal walking
  • Cardio respiratory fitness and muscular endurance can improve
  • Nordic walking can reduce muscle tension and pain in the neck and shoulders
  • The mobility of the neck and spine may increase
  • Nordic walking does not aggravate joint and knee problems and may even reduce the load on knees
  • The poles can help with safety on slippery surfaces

It’s important to choose the correct pole length for your height. To work out pole length you  multiply your height in centimetres (cm) by 0.68 and then round it up to the nearest 5cm.

It’s also recommended that you take a training course with either British Nordic Walking or Nordic Walking UK.

University of the West of England are currently offering free Nordic Walking in the Bristol area. Find out more here.


Golf can help to maintain your fitness simply through the amount of walking involved. Some golf courses can mean you walk up to 4 miles!

Golf also helps to maintain both spinal and shoulder range of movement and it also works your core stability.

Although it is a low impact sport, it is important that you do a good warm up before you play a round of golf, and perform stretches at the end of the round in the opposite direction to which you swing your golf club. If you play golf 2 to 3 times a week, additional stretches should include a focus on your shoulders, spine and arms.

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