I've been pole hiking for years, ever since I was introduced to it at a yoga retreat. My teenage daughter uses them as well. We love them, and nearly always hike with them (unless the trail is mostly bare rock, in which case they are useless).
One of the benefits, as others have mentioned, is that you do get an upper body workout while you hike. I also tend to go a bit faster when I get in a good rhythm with my poles, which also gets me into a rhythm with my breathing. They do take some of the weight off of your knees, and they can be wonderful for stability especially when going downhill. Uphill, I've used them to get my arms into the action on propelling my body up that mountain.
Our poles are Leki. Mine are 3-part, so they collapse to a smaller size, but my daughter's are just 2 -- and they were more affordable.
My advice is to get used to working and walking with them on flat ground, so that you develop your own rhythm. Once you are comfortable with them, you'll be able to rely on them more for stability.
One other thing: I'm not a fan of using only 1 hiking pole, as it tends to imbalance my body ... and I don't like that :-)
Good luck -- and no matter what, keep walking!!
| current weight: 137.0