Nordic Walking or Pole Walking Works on More Muscle Groups for Better Fitness

Nordic-Walking-Uber-WalkerIt goes without saying that walking is great for toning your legs. But how can you get a better upper-body workout through walking? Hand weights are an improvement, but they mostly focus on your arms and shoulders. The secret to getting a full body workout is Nordic walking.

Hikers have long used poles to navigate rough terrain, but Nordic or pole walking is different. First developed by Finnish cross-country skiers so they could train year round, Nordic walking became very popular in Europe in the late 1990s when poles designed exclusively for Nordic walking were first marketed.

In Nordic walking, you use special poles to apply force with each stride. This enhanced exercise builds strength and stamina throughout your upper body as well as your core muscle groups. You work up to 90% of your skeletal muscles and burn up to 50% more calories than with normal walking.

When using poles to propel you with each stride, you have to work harder to keep up the pace. Yet you don’t feel tired, winded, or over-extended. Nordic walking is a fun way to double the benefits of regular walking. The only drawback is that you need to buy special walking poles to get the most from Nordic walking.

Nordic Walking Techniques Are Easy to Learn and Fun to Master

The original Nordic walking poles were simply cross-country skiing poles the walker had to grip with each step. Today’s commercially available Nordic walking poles come with wrist straps that make gripping the poles easy. The most basic Nordic walking technique involves using the poles to help propel your body forward.

  • Walk with a normal stride with your heel touching the ground first and then rolling forward. Your right hand should grip the pole as your left heel touches the ground, pushing off against the force of your leg on the opposite side of your body.
  • As your right hand naturally swings back, let go of the grip, allowing the strap to do its work. Simultaneously, your left hand grips the pole as your right heel touches the ground and your hips work with a counter-motion. This simple technique works many more muscles than merely swinging your arms as you walk.

Nordic walking takes a little practice, but it does not involve changing your natural walking stride. Many beginners, however, make some common mistakes:

  • If you continually grip both poles, you aren’t getting the full upper torso workout.
  • Walking with hands always closed can cause your hands to “fall asleep,” a sign of improper blood circulation. Walking with your hands always open makes Nordic walking seem like hard work when it shouldn’t be.
  • Placing the poles too far from your body also lowers the efficiency of your workout.
  • Finally, many beginners forget to alternate arm and leg motion—proper Nordic walking involves normal arm and leg movements.