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Nordic Walking for Fitness and Fun!

An Introduction to Walking with Poles

-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer
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Eventually, most people who walk for fitness will reach the point when walking alone no longer challenges them or helps them see results. If that sounds like you, then Nordic walking may be just what you need. First used as a summer training method by cross-country skiers, Nordic walking has become a stand-alone fitness regime, thanks to fitness professionals and the sports equipment manufacturer Exel Oyj of Finland.

Nordic walking, which uses walking poles to increase effort, is a low-impact, full-body workout that is gentle on the joints. And although you'll work harder and burn more calories than walking alone, the perceived exertion is about the same. What this means is that you burn more calories while working more muscle groups. If you try Nordic walking, you’ll enjoy a greater aerobic challenge than walking alone, but won't feel as though you're working much harder.

A small study conducted by the Dallas-based Cooper Institute and funded by Exel found that:
  • Nordic walking burns about 20% more calories per hour than walking alone.
  • Nordic walking elevates heart rate between 4.0% and 8.2% higher than walking alone.
  • Although Nordic walkers burned more calories and used more muscle groups, they did not feel that walking with Nordic poles was more strenuous than walking without poles. Continued ›
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • Bought my father-in-law a pair years ago. He loved them. Now, I have to buy a pair for myself! - 11/7/2013 9:40:30 AM
    Interesting. I would love to try it someday. - 9/19/2013 10:52:44 AM
  • 4 pages, really?
    - 8/25/2013 9:48:33 PM
  • Great article - 6/15/2013 10:30:43 AM
  • This looks interesting and like something I'd like to try. Thanks for the info! - 2/14/2013 8:28:01 AM
  • Great information. I was given a pair, and this showed me what to do with them. - 2/5/2013 3:41:13 PM
  • Great article. I've seen nordic walking but had no idea there was a right way to do it. Would love to try. - 12/20/2012 4:56:30 PM
  • For some reason I keep thinking this article title is "Nordic Walking for Fitness and Profit!" - tee hee. :^)

    I suppose it does profit your fitness and overall health, right? So that's not far off. - 11/14/2012 9:01:28 AM
    I use to walk alot, but now my joints are so bad I am limited! - 8/25/2012 5:41:57 PM
    When buying Nordic poles, you might want to consider getting the telescoping type rather than the fixed length poles.
    Telescoping poles are much easier to pack for traveling, and are easily put away in a backpack if you should decide to jog or run a little. - 12/2/2011 2:07:41 PM
  • Ditto! Would love to see Nordic walking added to the fitness tracker! For some of us, it's our main form of cardio, ya know!!! - 6/1/2011 5:27:35 PM
  • I love nordic walking. Add it to the fitness tracker please!!!! - 5/28/2011 11:01:23 PM
  • The areas around here where I walk my dogs are filled with Nordic walkers during the warm months, it's downright a nuisance! I wish that people would get proper instruction before casually ambling through the woods, dragging poles around for no reason when they would walk faster without! In my two-and-a-half years here, I have seen ONE (!) person properly using the equipment. Makes me wonder if there's anyone leading those walking groups who knows what they're doing... - 2/23/2011 3:08:02 AM
  • this sounds really good for crosstraining, and I have seen people using the poles locally, but I am focusing on chi walking and this means the heel-to-toe motion would not work for me at this time. - 12/10/2010 10:21:19 PM
  • In my experience over the past 6 years of instructing both groups and individuals, Nordic Walking is great for posture, breathing (especially if you have COPD or asthma), heart health, back health and building strength. The full body workout is fun so people tend to stick with it...and that's part of any successful exercise program.
    Personally, I "walked the walk" so to speak recently. A lot of my clients adopt walking with poles post-op such as after a hip or knee replacement. Sometimes it is after a triple bypass. I always tell them that Nordic Walking will get them walking upright and with confidence than just regular walking. I had major surgery 10 weeks ago; at 2 weeks post-op I was crusing my neighborhood slowly. At 4 weeks, my doctor saw me for a follow-up visit and remarked at my amazing recovery. Everyone is different but for me, following my own advice and having it actually work (not that I liked being a guinea pig!) was gratifying.
    I hope everyone will one day try Nordic Walking...for me it is weight control, stress reliever and resistance workout all rolled into one. - 11/4/2010 3:16:03 PM
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