Nordic Pole Walking

You might have heard of Nordic Pole Walking. It's sweeping North America and it's just super exercise for ALL ages!

You may have heard it called nordic walking, the benefits of nordic walking, using nordic waling sticks, nordic walking technik or the like. Whatever you call it, it's real and very good news for you. Why?

Because it's really beneficial and very easy for us 50 Plus'ers to do. Just grab a couple of those nordic walking stick thingies and walk! Greater fitness without apparently working any harder. Sounds like a very good deal to us.

Now, just in case you're asking yourself "You mean that funny thing I see silly people do as they walk down the path waving their arms and poles in the air? How can that be beneficial unless you're laughing so hard you lose weight just watching?"

Well we wouldn't say 'funny' or 'silly' but yes - that's the stuff!

As you work through your personal Fitness Walking Program you can add variety to your walking styles. (And of course, as always you will clear this new activity with your medical professional, right? We knew you would.)

The Benefits Of Nordic Walking

As amazing as it sounds, just adding that little motion with those nordic walking sticks, nordic pole walking does all of this for you.

  • Adds stability and balance to your stride
  • Involves up to 90% of your body muscles vs. 70% for regular walking.
  • Burns up to 46% more calories than regular walking. Yes - 46% more! That's huge.
  • Increases your muscle endurance and strength.
  • A true all year round exercise.
  • Increases your heart rate for a given pace over your regular walk. Bottom line is better heart health.
  • Nordic pole walking improves your posture and breathing.
  • Improves your weight shift when you walk. Puts less stress on your ankle, hip and knee joints.
  • Helps you when climbing hills.

Llet's take a closer look at ...

Nordic Pole Walking - What It Is.

In simple terms it's walking with poles.

Hmm, maybe you want a bit more? OK, here goes.

You add nordic walking sticks or poles to your walking and use a technique a bit like cross country skiing. The big difference with nordic pole walking is that you walk upright, not bent over. This lets you use a longer arm swing and stride. This causes you to use more muscles, especially in your upper body.

When you exercise with nordic walking poles, you extend the normal arm swing you get with regular walking.

This simple action is the basic reason and source for all the benefits we talk about.

Some Bonus Benefits Of Nordic Walking!

  • Nordic pole walking is a year round activity. Better nordic walking poles have a removable rubber tip. This tip is used on smooth surfaces like sidewalks and paved roads. When you remove the tips, there's a carbide tipped steel point that gives you traction on softer surfaces like grass, gravel, ice and snow.
  • Many of these removable rubber tips are a friction fit. For this we suggest you use a little vaseline on your tip to make it easier to get off and on - especially when you're walking over different types of ground on the same walk. Our tips can be a bit of a challenge sometimes to change quickly!
  • There is also something new from Leki (our favorite brand) called the Smart Tip with a neat little lever that allows you to pop if off and on easily.
  • Note that the rubber in these tips is not your normal, every day rubber. It is very hard and durable. Even then you will go through at least one set of tips a year if you walk regularly.
  • Good nordic poles weigh almost nothing. Good poles like LEKI are very strong and made of variants of carbon fiber and other modern elements. Don't cheap out here. Quality pays here too.
  • You can go slow and progress when you're ready to. Nordic pole walking is great no matter what speed you want to want at!

So the next step is ...

How Do You Do It?

Rather than us blather on, the best way we know of is to show you. Have a look at this 5 minute video put together by Nordic Walking USA. It does a very good job of going over the basics. (used with permission)

Isn't that a good video? Shows you clearly just about everything you should know. Here is a great reference book authored by Dr. Schwanbeck that is worth taking a look at.

The Ultimate Nordic Walking Book

It's called The Ultimate Nordic Pole Walking Book. As an added bonus Klaus includes a neat DVD with this video and other stuff on it. We have it and love it! Great reference stuff and motivator.

OK. You've got all this good info. You're ready to get out there and give it a go. A couple of things. First ... what to look for in ...

Nordic Pole Walking Equipment

You want poles that are adjustable - fixed length, two section and three section poles are available. More sections usually means higher price to get the same strength when extended.

You need removable rubber tips. Our tips usually last about 6-8 months when you walk on pavement, asphalt, concrete. The carbide tip under the rubber usually lasts a very long time. Quality poles allow you to replace them too. 

You want adjustable wrist straps. Some poles (like the LEKI we use) have a wrist strap assembly that has a quick release button. You can quickly release your hand from the pole without having to undo the strap from your wrist. This can be a nuisance in the winter with gloves on.

Poles tend to made out of aluminum, graphite, carbon fiber or a combination of these for lighter weight and greater strength. If you tend to walk or hike in rougher terrain, the extra strength might come in handy for stability and grip on sloped ground.

Finally we have two more important pieces of nordic pole walking equipment - nordic walking footwear and quality socks. They are so important they get their own pages. Please read the Nordic Walking Shoes and Thorlo Padded Socks pages for this.

And just before you head on out we have just 'one more thing' ...

Stretching Exercises

Your weren't really thinking you could get away from warming up now did you?

That finely tuned walking machine of yours is developing very nicely but at our age, you know it's always best to warm up a bit first.

Work through these just before you start out. They don't take long and you'll enjoy your nordic walking all that much more. The stretching segment is courtesy of LEKI, a leading manufacturer of ski, hiking, trekking and nordic walking poles for over 55 years.

(If these are still a little bit tough, then visit our other Stretching Exercise page until you're ready for these)

Stretching Exercises for Nordic Pole Walking

Quad Stretch

Quad stretch
  1. Stand up straight, holding pole for support*.
  2. Gently, bend your knee behind you to grasp your ankle with the other hand.
  3. Bring ankle towards glutes, hold for 15 seconds, then switch legs.

*(Alternately you can put your foot on the edge of a couch or bed, bend the other knee slowly. Change legs. Use a wall or chair to support your hands)

Hamstring Stretch

Hamsttng Stretch

  1. Plant both poles shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place straight leg in front, heel on ground, toes pointed up.
  3. Gently, bend other knee while leaning forward with straight back. Hold for 15 seconds, switch sides.

Chest/Upper Shoulder Stretch

Chest/Upper Shoulder Stretch
  1. Grasp pole behind back, hands a little wider than shoulder width.
  2. Lift pole up towards head until you feel stretch.

Lats/Back Stretch

Lats/Back Strecth

  1. Place poles well out in front of you.
  2. Lean on poles with straight arms.
  3. Bend upper body at waist downward; do not hyper-extend lower back.

Tricep/Arm Stretch

Tricep/Arm Streych
  1. Grab the top of the pole grip with one arm.
  2. Bring pole over head and down back; grasp other end with other hand.
  3. Pull down on lower part until you feel stretch in back of arm.

Torso/Lateral Stretch

Torso Stretch

  1. Grab pole with wide grip overhead.
  2. Standing up straight, bend at side, reaching opposite hand over head.
  3. After stretch, change sides, then come back to neutral.
  4. From neutral, gently twist torso until you feel stretch, then turn other way.

Yes! Now You're Ready To Go Nordic Pole Walking!

Yes, at long last you truly are ready to give this exciting and energizing experience a go.

Go easy but do GO! See you on the path!

To Top of Nordic Pole Walkikng

Walking Tips

Winter Wonderland Walking

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