Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking

If you are going for a walk, take your trekking poles along and make it a Nordic Walk. Nordic walking, a term first defined in 1979, adds upper body exercise to normal walking through the proper use of trekking poles or specially designed poles just for Nordic walking.

The special poles typically have a strap with a thumb hole that holds the walker’s hand and cinches tightly around it. One pole is specifically strapped for the left hand and the other for the right hand. Some even have a snap-on clip so that the grip can remain attached to your hand when you want to let go of the pole.  Some people prefer to Nordic walk without using straps on their poles.

These days, both trekking poles and Nordic walking poles are adjustable in length. To adjust your poles, put the tip next to your heel and hold the grip in your hand with your elbow against your side and your forearm just a little down from 90 degrees. Lock your poles to that length. This is much shorter than they would be if you were cross country skiing.

When walking, your arms will swing forward, so your hand is at around a 45 degree angle from your body. Your arms alternate as you walk and remain outstretched while they swing from the shoulder. As you walk, your left hand will go forward when your right foot goes forward and vice versa. Your pole will naturally contact the ground so you can push against it. The photo, by Zentay Anikó illustrates proper nordic walking technique.

The above instructions may make the process sound more difficult than it really is. Just get your poles to the correct length and start walking. In no time you’ll get the cadence and will be Nordic walking like a pro.

If you are walking on pavement, use the rubber tips that came with your poles. If you are traveling off of the pavement, remove the rubber tips and use the metal point.

This style of walking, due to the upper body workout, is said to increase your calories burned by 40%. While at the same time reducing stress on your knees and strengthening your upper body.  The level of exercise you will perceive is barely more than normal walking.

For more on the topic, see the  American Nordic Walking Association website.

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