More than 15 million people of all ages and fitness levels participate in Nordic walking, a sport that uses special poles to engage the upper body muscles. It’s known for providing a fantastic, low-impact workout, even for those who have health problems or physical limitations. Also known as ski walking, this activity turbo-charges a regular fitness walking regimen. In fact, it burns as much as 20 percent more calories compared to regular walking.
Nordic walking poles help individuals who have issues with their balance, knees, hips, weight, and back, including those who have rods in their backs. It’s also good for those with multiple sclerosis, 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 and start walking safely, effectively launching much-needed walking campaigns.
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The Book on Nordic Walking
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 equipment 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 to target the larger muscles that wrap around 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 with poles, the key postural muscles of the core and upper body are engaged.
Read More: Are Two Poles Better Than One?
Health & Fitness Benefits
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness outlines the health and fitness benefits and the enhancement of body posture that result from the activity. It covers equipment, including poles, shoes, apparel, pedometers, and heart rate monitors.
There are photos for every segment of the book showing technique progressions, fitness exercises, power training, and variations for balance, agility, and flexibility. The book also reviews common technique errors and uphill and downhill techniques, advanced cardio training, and drills for strength training and calorie burning.
The book also includes fitness assessments and sample workouts for varying 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.
If this all sounds a bit like overkill, that’s because it is, particularly if you are a recreational fitness enthusiast. However, you need only to read as much of the book as you feel relevant to your personal situation.
The Lived Experience
I’ve been practicing Nordic walking for a few years. I 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 happy to hear that using the poles significantly increases caloric burning.
Being a cross-country skier, it is easy to master Nordic walking quickly. After a summer of Nordic walking, I noticed a marked improvement in my cross-country ski poling in strength and timing. It seemed that I increased the amount of forward-momentum that was attributable to poling. Moreover, 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 improving their fitness level.
For more information, you can visit Nordic Walking UK and the American Nordic Walking Association. Furthermore, another book to consider is Nordic Walking: The Complete Guide to Health, Fitness, and Fun by Claire Waters (read our review).
Have you tried Nordic walking or read the book? What has your experience been? Please share your thought with us in the comments below.
This article was first published on August 21, 2015. Susan Wowk most recently updated it on June 14, 2021.
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