Less than four decades ago, a form of fitness known as Nordic pole walking was first introduced in Finland. Skiers used two adjustable walking poles to sculpt one’s body into top shape. Over the years, Nordic pole walking increases in popularity and has made its way over to the United States. While this form of exercise has been around for years in Europe, it’s just reaching its peak of popularity around the rest of the world.
Nordic pole walking may not be the most common form of exercise, but it offers a plethora of health benefits. In fact, according to David Downer, certified INWA instructor, Nordic walking activist, and author of Nordic Walking Step by Step, Nordic walking is “a form of exercise in its own right an and completely detached from skiing, hiking and trekking, the activity of fitness walking using specially designed poles was pioneered in the U.S. by an avid cross-country skier and certified Nordic skiing coach Tom Rutlin beginning in 1985“.
Force is used in each stride, and draws upon many different muscle groups including triceps, biceps, shoulder, abdominal, core, and chest. By combining all these muscle groups, Nordic pole walking produces up to a 46% increase in energy consumption as opposed to walking without poles (Cooper Institute, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sports 2002 publication).
Interested in trying it out for yourself? The infographic below further details Nordic pole walking benefits, types, and techniques.
Now that you’re familiarized with Nordic pole walking, it’s time to take your new-found knowledge and hit the hiking trails. To start, I’d recommend a flat hike with minimal elevation gain. As time progresses, slowly work your way up to more elevation gains and losses for an added challenge. Now grab your poles and get to walking!