Poling While Hiking Is An Exercise Multiplier

Roger Lohr is co-founder and editor of XCSkiResorts.com and a noted writer on all the varieties of Nordic skiing.

Walking a la Nordic raises efficiency of exercise by 40 percent. Credit: Leki
Walking a la Nordic raises efficiency of exercise by 40 percent.
Credit: Leki

More than 10 million Europeans of all ages and fitness levels are Nordic Walking (also known as Ski Walking) with special Nordic Walking Poles. This new fitness activity turbo-charges the normal walking regimen burning as much as 40 percent more calories compared to regular walking.

For those who are unfamiliar, Nordic walking is a fitness activity that combines walking with specially designed poles to engage the upper body muscles.

Nordic Walking poles help individuals 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 Disease, neuropathy, arthritis, bursitis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, post polio, osteoporosis, stroke recovery, cancer recovery, and other limitations to walking. Nordic Walking is helping thousands of people get off the couch, get outside, start walking safely, and effectively launching much needed walking campaigns.

The Human Kinetics book entitled Nordic Walking for Total Fitness by Suzanne Nottingham and Alexandra Jurasin covers the topic. 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 the aforementioned 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.

The book also includes fitness assessments, sample workouts for varying levels of interests from first timer to cross training triathletes. There are also suggestions about customizing your program. Training program recommendations are offered for building distance, fluctuating daily intensity, and rest days.

I’ve been a Nordic Walker for a few years and found many of the claimed attributes in the book 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. Being a cross-country skier, it is easy to quickly master Nordic walking. 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 for Total Fitness provides a 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.

Nordic Walking for Total Fitness is available for $19.95 plus shipping from Human Kinetics at www.humankinetics.com or call 217-351-5076. 


  1. For the best value in walking, hiking, trekking or Nordic walking poles and accessories, you really should consider http://www.pacemakerstix.com. Great product choices, plus a 1 year guarantee, and, free extended life rubber feet with every mono pole or pole pair. Don’t pay hundreds for high quality products! We have the right poles for you! Set your own pace!

  2. I love Nordic walking. I try to make it as many weekends as I can.

  3. Just got a pair of Nordic Walking poles (Leki), love getting more exercise and not getting the shock from using my fiberglass touring poles.

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