If You’re Going For A Walk, Bring Those Poles. Easy, Accessible Efficient.

Add Nordic walking to your virus-beating activities to stay in shape.

Staying active outdoors during the COVID-19 virus crisis is easy and very accessible with Nordic walking, which is a fitness activity that combines walking with specially designed poles to engage the upper body muscles. Like cross country skiing, the poles are used to match each step a person takes. It’s an easy, inexpensive workout with remarkable benefits, according to a study by the Cooper Institute, Nordic walking burns up to 40 percent more calories compared to just plain walking.

It’s better than walking because it provides an easier cardio workout by increasing the heart rate 5-17 beats per minute more than normal walking without increasing the perceived rate of exertion. It also provides an upper body workout that includes shoulders, arms, chest, and back muscles. And it’s a low impact exercise, so it’s easy on knees and joints.

A good pair of walking or running shoes, comfortable clothing, and Nordic walking poles will get anyone started. People of ALL ages and ALL fitness levels can receive the calorie burning and aerobic benefits of Nordic Walking. The winning combination of improved posture and the shock absorbing benefits of the poles help many individuals to walk comfortably – even those with balance issues, knee issues or new knees, hip issues or new hips, back issues (including those with rods in their back), weight issues, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, neuropathy, arthritis, bursitis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, post polio, osteoporosis, stroke recovery and other limitations to walking.

For those who are unfamiliar, trekking (hiking with poles) and Nordic walking are two different activities that use very different poles and techniques. It may sound silly, but perhaps “walking is not just walking.” The pole angle, weight, grip, and straps are different between those modes of walking. The Nordic walking pole is designed to allow your hands to relax in order to target the larger wrapping muscles of the back. But using poles of any kind automatically stimulates your spine and all of the muscles around it, even with inefficient technique. When walking, the key postural muscles of the core and upper body are engaged.

I’ve been a Nordic Walker for a few years and found many of the claims for the activity regarding posture and exercise to be true. I’ve always been in search of a way to decrease the amount of time spent exercising, so I was sold when I heard that using the poles increases caloric burning by 40 percent. Cross country skiers will find it easy to quickly master Nordic walking. As a bonus, after a summer of Nordic walking, I noticed a marked improvement in my cross country ski poling in terms of strength and timing. It seemed that I increased the amount of forward momentum that was attributable to poling and I was able to pole stronger and longer when skiing.

Nordic Walking provides an exercise foundation for anyone, ranging from those just looking for an activity to lose weight to health aficionados interested in taking it to higher levels of fitness


  1. Tom Weller says:

    Heavy Hands, a book by Leonard Schwartz, uses 1 to 2 pound weights that provide an alternative using poles.

  2. Tom Weller says:

    Should read “alternative to poles”

  3. George Seeley says:

    I think she might want to learn to hold her poles correctly–to grasp the handles in a proper skiing-type grasp. It gives you more control over your poles, and more support to your wrists.

    • If you look closer, the woman in the video appears to have wrist straps on her pole grips. My poles (and the xc ski poles that I use for groomed trail skiing) also have these straps. They allow you to hold the grip between thumb and forefinger so the pole freely swings and snaps back to your grip. With this grip system there is more reliance on tour wrist. My thumb still gets sore from poling despite the grip system.

  4. Very useful, makes me look forward more to warm weather after this frustrating late winter. Thanks!

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