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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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Basic Nordic Walking Technique
While Nordic walking is an effective workout, it’s not as simple as picking up a pair of walking sticks and heading out—you'll need to learn a different movement altogether. Here are some technique guidelines:
  1. Loop the pole straps over your hands, drop your hands back and start walking without thinking about the poles yet. Concentrate on relaxed walking and keep your shoulders low and loose. Allow your arms to swing freely back and forth.
  2. Walk with the poles held low and let them swing along with the arms without trying to use them. Lengthen your stride so and begin with the heel first, then roll onto the sole of the foot and finish with a thrust from the ball of the foot.
  3. Now concentrate on using the poles. Once you have gotten into a rhythm, try to use the arms more and more. The goal is to get the pole thrust to travel behind the line of the pelvis.
  4. Keep the Nordic poles close to the body. Your pelvis should be lifted high and your overall posture taut and slightly forward-leaning. Opposite arms and legs swing alternately forwards and back.
  5. For a visual of Nordic walking technique, check out the short YouTube video, Nordic Walking: An Introduction.
Buying Nordic Poles
You can buy Nordic poles online or in retail sporting goods stores at prices starting around $100 a pair. Exel, one of the original creators of Nordic walking, remains the top source for carbon composite poles. The types of Nordic poles are virtually endless, with options related to weight (light or heavy), materials (aluminum or carbon fiber), length (some are adjustable or fixed, while others are telescoping for easier packing), wrist straps and their release mechanisms, grips (many are ergonomically designed to reduce hand and wrist fatigue), tips (rubber for paved walkways and spikes for trails), and more.
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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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