What Is Nordic Walking & What Are The Benefits?

What Is Nordic Walking?
Nordic walking has been around for quite some time, originally invented as a workout for cross country skiers in the summer months. More recently, it’s become a popular workout of choice for people of all fitness levels, interests, and ages. Its popularity has most likely risen thanks to the many potential benefits it can provide. Today, we will dive into what Nordic walking is and how it might benefit your health.

What is Nordic walking?

Nordic walking is a workout where you use poles to walk. These poles are similar to what you’d use while cross country skiing, except they have a more blunt bottom to use on dirt trails or asphalt. The primary difference between Nordic poles and poles for hiking or skiing is how they are held with a specially designed gripping system (rather than traditional handles with straps).
These poles can be found at most sports stores and help maximize your upper body and core efforts while walking.

The Benefits of Nordic Walking

Sports coaches and cardiologists alike love the potential that comes with Nordic walking- and it’s all supported by high-quality research as well. Probably the most significant benefit is how you will feel after each walk as you keep up with it consistently. Below are some of the top benefits to be gained with Nordic walking:

  • Improve cardiovascular health. Using poles while walking has been shown to increase heart rate without significantly increasing an individual’s perceived rate of exertion. This means you’re working harder without even realizing it.
  • Higher calorie expenditure. With that heart rate more elevated and more muscles working, you can expect to burn more calories. This can help with weight loss goals and healthy weight maintenance.
  • Full body strength. Walking primarily works the lower body while adding poles get essentially the entire body involved. This can help build muscle and bone strength in the upper spine, shoulders, and core more effectively.
  • Safety. Walking poles provide a level of balance and support that can help reduce the risk of injury. When you’re tired, have poor form, or are fighting uphill, the last thing you want to do is lose your footing. With walking poles, if you begin to slip or lose your balance, it provides a way to catch yourself and get back on track safely.
  • Fun factor. Nordic walking is a great way to change your workout routine from time to time or in certain seasons. Plus, it’s a great way to get out with friends and chat while exercising and enjoying some fresh air.
  • Easy to get started. Walking with poles is relatively easy. While there are ways to make it more efficient, all you need to do is start walking, and the rest will come naturally (once you’ve adjusted your poles to a comfortable position). Plus, since poles are so compact, they’re easy to have on hand to bring along on a hike, whether it’s in the woods or on a city trail (or even a treadmill).

How to Get Started with Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is a bit different from just going for a simple walk. Yet, all you need to get started are a few basics: Nordic poles (you can get by with basic adjustable hiking poles if needed) and comfortable sturdy walking shoes. Then, choose a favorite walking path or neighborhood to try out your poles. If the weather is terrible or you don’t have the time or flexibility to get outside, you can also use your poles on a treadmill to get all the benefits of Nordic walking, even when you’re inside.

Give It a Try

Mixing up your workouts with something new can keep you from plateauing. Plus, you’ll feel more motivated to keep working toward your current fitness goals. Grab a pair of poles and make each step more beneficial than simply going for a routine stroll around the neighborhood. With all the benefits that you can gain from Nordic walking, it’s worth a try!

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