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Nordic Walking - Getting More Out Of Your Walking Workout

Updated on April 28, 2013

What Is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking originated in Finland (not Norway) when skiers wanted a way to keep fit during the summer months and prepare for the forthcoming winter skiing season. It basically involves walking with poles. Originally ski poles would have been used, but special walking poles have now been developed.

Normal walking is an excellent form of exercise - it's a great low impact workout. Nordic walking has some significant advantages when compared to conventional walking:

  1. The use of the walking poles means that the upper body is more engaged than would be the case during normal walking.
  2. The walker can, to a certain extent, propel themselves along using the poles. This means that more work is done - but the poles help to make it seem no more tiring (and also increase stability - which is beneficial for some walkers).
  3. Stress on the lower body muscles and joints is reduced as the upper body does more of the work.

The extra work done can result in somewhere between 20 and 40% more energy being consumed in comparison with normal walking. You burn more calories in other words.

The stability provided by the poles can also mean that some walkers, who might not otherwise be able, can take part in a relatively high intensity exercise regime.

The video below should give you an idea of what Nordic walking is all about.

Nordic Walking Explained

Nordic Walking Poles

The poles used for Nordic walking are shorter than those used for cross country skiing due to the fact that there is no "glide" in walking so the equivalent stride length is somewhat shorter.

The best poles are adjustable to suit the height and stride length of the individual walker. They are generally fitted with rubber covers on the tips to facilitate walking on hard surfaces. This can be removed for softer terrain.

Some walking poles incorporate a special "glove " for the hand which encourages the correct walking technique.

It's important to get the correct poles. Nordic walking poles shouldn't be confused with standard walking or trekking sticks. They are designed to work correctly with the Nordic walking technique.

Nordic Walking Technique Demonstration


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    • ExpandYourMind profile image


      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Interesting . . . I need a low impact workout that incorporates the upper body. I may just try this!

    • Thamisgith profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I did wonder about that! Maybe it's called Nordic walking everywhere except Finland?

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Why is it called Nordic walking if it originated in Finland? Was Finlandic walking taken?


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