Imagine standing on the peak of the mountain ready to propel down the slope. A clear sky and crisp air, a perfect day for cross-country skiing.

Now replace the picture of a snow-clad mountain with your neighborhood. You are using the poles to mimic skiing. This is the basic concept of Nordic walking. Nordic walking is a version of the total body walking, which can be enjoyed both by athletes as well as non-athletes.

Done with walking poles which are similar to regular ski poles, Nordic walking was initially designed as cross-country skiers’ summer training routine. It is quickly gaining ground as an exercise regimen in the United States. It is more prevalent in older adults.

Benefits of Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is a combination of cardiovascular exercise with a vigorous workout for muscles of your shoulders, arms, legs, and core.

When a person walks without poles, they tend to activate muscles situated below the waist. When Nordic poles are thrown into the mix, the upper body muscles are also activated.

Unlike the engagement of only 50% muscles in normal walking, Nordic walking engages up to 90% of your muscles, providing significant calorie-burning benefits. There is also evidence that Nordic walking helps in reducing the fat mass, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and waist circumference.

It is also known to increase endurance, HDL cholesterol, muscle flexibility and strength, cardiovascular fitness, walking distance,and quality of life.

It also reduces the pressure on the legs because you have more ground contact thanks to the poles. Plus, it is fun.

Nordic Poles

Unlike hiking or trekking poles that have loose straps that go around your wrists, Nordic poles utilize a unique glove-like system that is attached to a pole. You slide the hand into the contraption and use the palm to push the poles and move forward.

Nordic poles are readily available both online and your brick and mortar sporting goods stores.

These are available in carbon material or lightweight aluminum with either rubber tips if walking on sidewalks, or pointed tips in case of trails, and with adjustable or fixed heights.

A pair of Nordic poles are usually available between $30 and $200.

Nordic Walking Techniques

There are two basic techniques for Nordic walking. One method is double poling, which involves planting the poles symmetrically in front and pulling forward as you walk a few steps.

Ideally, a Nordic walker will double pole and walk three steps – double pole and 1,2,3. The entire process is repeated.

Single poling is another Nordic walking technique, in which one pole is put in front of each step. Single poling mimics what a foot is doing.

This is done with the same-side leg and arm together or opposite leg and arm. The foot and pole will be both striking and propelling at the same time. The only difference is the side.

Experts advise starting with single poling and then graduating to double poling.

Getting Started

Nordic walking is suitable for a majority of the populace, even for those with balance problems. Nordic walking experts argue that it is the best for people with balance issues as the poles provide increased stability.

Like starting any exercise regimen, discussing and seeking approval from the doctor is necessary, especially for people with cardiovascular history.

Once the doctor approves and a set of the pole is in hand, a proper walking trail is required. You can walk either on a varied terrain or level surfaces. Parks and safe neighborhoods are always ideal for Nordic walking.

Some Tips

Dress comfortably

Clothes that allow free swinging of the arms should be worn.

Stay hydrated

If you are walking for less than 45 to 60 minutes, then adequate water should be drunk in advance. If a longer walk is planned, then drinking water along the route is advised.

Do a warm-up and cool-down routine

You should do warm-up and cool down for 10 minutes each. Even though it is fun, Nordic walking should be treated as a workout.