Whether you’ve fallen a bit behind in your fitness routine or you’re looking for something new to try, consider Nordic walking! This full-body, low-impact workout is effective for people of all fitness levels.
This workout originated in Finland in the early 20th century as off-season training for cross-country skiers. Since then, athletes and sports medicine experts have perfected wrist straps to make this present-day walking technique possible. But don’t worry, you don’t have to live near the slopes to benefit from this technique.
If your fitness routine involves taking a daily walk, you may want to take it up a notch with pole walking. Picture a standard walk, only with walking poles. These poles are used to propel the body forward and keep the upper body engaged. By exercising the entire body during your walk (not just the bottom half), you’re working more muscles and burning more calories. Basically, it’s like jogging without joint pain!
As we’ve briefly covered above, the fitness and health benefits of Nordic walking are significantly greater than regular walking and jogging. Studies have shown that pole walking:
Research has also shown that Nordic walking is beneficial for older adults, as it improves cardio-respiratory and overall fitness. It’s also very low-impact and can improve balance and reduce neck pain. And bonus: it can be done just about anywhere, either solo or in a group!
Yes! As mentioned above, Nordic walking burns up to 46% more calories than an ordinary stroll. Pole walking is also associated with reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, waist circumference, fat mass. and increases in “good” HDL cholesterol, endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility.
There are several Nordic walking techniques, so just find the one that works best for you and stick with it! One walking technique is called “double poling,” which involves planting both poles in front of you and pulling forward three steps as you walk. Another method is “single poling,” which simply mimics what your feet are doing as you walk.
You may already have a pair of trekking or hiking poles, but Nordic walking poles are different. They will have a special glove-like system attached to keep your hands in place. Simply slide your hands into it and use your palms to move forward.
Quality Nordic walking poles can be found in most sporting goods stores and online. There’s quite an assortment out there with fixed and adjustable heights, and they range from $20 to around $200. Depending on your terrain, you may want pointed tips for trails and grassy walks or rubber tips for sidewalks.
Once you have your poles, you’re ready to get started! Find a walking route, like a sidewalk, trail, or park. Be sure and dress comfortably and make sure your sleeves are roomy enough to allow lots of arm swinging. You may also want to opt for something sleeveless if the weather allows. Also make sure to wear lightweight shoes or trainers with a flexible sole, as your feet will be bending with each stride. Be sure and bring some water and do a 10-minute warm-up and cool-down.
Interested in a new supplemental workout to add to your routine? Check out the benefits of Barre for mature women!