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 provides a fantastic, low-impact workout, even for those with 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 normal walking.
Nordic walking poles help individuals with issues with their balance, knees, hips, weight, and back, including those with 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 and safely get outside, effectively launching much-needed walking campaigns.
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The Book on Nordic Walking
The human kinetics book 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 differ between the walking modes mentioned above.
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 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? Tips for Using and Choosing Your Pole
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.
Photos for every segment of the book show technique progressions, fitness exercises, power training, and variations for balance, agility, and flexibility. The book reviews common technique errors, uphill and downhill techniques, advanced cardio training, and drills for strength training and calorie burning.
In addition, there are fitness assessments and sample workouts for varying interests, from first-timer to cross-training triathletes. There are also suggestions about customizing your program, including recommendations for building distance, fluctuating daily intensity, and rest days.
If this all sounds a bit 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 is relevant to your situation.
Read More: Walk Your Way into Snowshoeing for Improved Fitness with Nordic Walking Poles
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 searched for a way to decrease the time spent exercising. So I was happy to hear that using the poles significantly increases caloric burning.
As a cross-country skier, it is easy to master Nordic walking quickly. For example, 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 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 enthusiasts interested in improving their fitness levels.
You can visit Nordic Walking UK and the American Nordic Walking Association for more information. 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 July 27, 2022.
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