What is Nordic walking? It is the technique of walking using two poles to help with balance and to get greater walking workout benefits. Whether you want to shed a few pounds, increase your fitness, protect your joints, or simply have a fun outdoor walk, Nordic walking checks all the boxes. Nordic walking may not be as popular as jogging or bicycling but it offers much more of a total body workout. And, it is truly something that will help keep you fit and active no matter how old you are.
Nordic pole walking originated in Finland in the early 1900s as a summer training exercise for cross country skiers. The breakthrough of this activity as a practiced exercise came in 1997, when a Finnish company, in cooperation with athletes and sports medicine experts, invented a wrist strap system to make the present-day Nordic walking technique what it is today. With proper technique and equipment – just two poles and a good pair of walking shoes – there’s a big list of benefits to taking up Nordic pole walking.
Using Nordic poles while walking offloads weight from the hips, knees and lower spine, and into the upper body, making it ideal for people who have arthritis or low back pain, or are easing back into physical activity after a surgery.
Health Benefits of Nordic Walking
The health benefits are enormous. Research shows that this low impact, full body sport strengthens the upper body and core, decreases stress on the hips and knees, increases your heart rate and burns 20% more calories than simply walking.
Nordic walking gives you an upright and tall feeling. It naturally aligns your spine and strengthens your core. Over 50% more muscles are engaged than regular walking without poles. Pole walking targets arms, abdominal muscles, waist, chest, bottom, hips and thighs. In particular, this helps burn unwanted back fat and floppy arms that torment many people.
Nordic walking has been investigated as a potential rehabilitation modality for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibromyalgia, congestive heart failure, and orthopedic issues such as arthritis and peripheral neuropathy.
Your knees and hips will thank you for walking with poles. The poles let you offload weight from your hips and knees into your upper body. You can walk further, faster and likely with less pain than before,
- Reduces impact on knee & hip joints
- Fall prevention
- Increase walking speed
You’ll straighten up and feel more confident—Your upper back muscles (the ones that pull your shoulders back) tighten each time you plant your poles and press down on the ergonomic pole handles.
- Promotes good posture
- Promotes greater walking tolerance
- Increases core strengthening
Work Out Your Core
Your abs tighten each time you push off with your poles. That’s the equivalent of 1,800 abdominal contractions every mile walked.
- Promotes good posture, stability and balance
- Increases walking speed and distance
- Promotes increased core strength and functional independence
Studies have also proven that pole walking is beneficial for breast cancer patients with arm lymphedema.
Nordic pole walking is a great alternative to running for those of us not ready for that activity. So get out there and hit the trails or your neighborhood sidewalk. You can do it on your own or with a group of friends. Urban poling offers the same year-round fresh-air experience as running but without the heavy impact and jostling your joints.