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Nordic Walking: Nomadic Exercise For Building The Body

Nordic WalkingCross-country skiers have long understood how this sport burns calories at a massive rate. Not only does the leg action of pushing through the snow burn those unwanted fat foundations (a.k.a. calories), but the arm action of moving those poles through space also contributes to the average 650 per hour calorie burn.

Two recent studies show walking and trekking poles to be effective for reducing exertion while happily increasing the calories burned by hikers and walkers. The poles are used as a pair – one in each hand. By using the poles with each step, the walker takes strain off of the lower legs while burning more calories by using the upper body. These ergonomically brilliant poles add stability on rocky or uneven trails as well as support people with balance problems in any terrain.

The Cooper Institute of Dallas, Texas assessed the Nordic walking method of using the poles for fitness walking. They found it increased calories burned and oxygen used by 20% compared with regular walking at the same pace.

The study, published in early 2001, assessed the impact of Nordic walking by comparing it to normal fitness walking. It showed that Nordic walking increases both energy expenditure and oxygen consumption by 20% on average compared to normal fitness walking at the same pace. The Cooper Institute studied the effectiveness of Nordic walking both in laboratory and field conditions in autumn 2000.

Nordic walking was originally used by cross-country skiers for summer training. Nordic walking was then developed into a fitness exercise suitable for everyone with specific training equipment by the sports equipment manufacturer, Exel Oyj, sports medicine researchers, and other fitness professionals. Nordic walking improves endurance fitness, strengthens the various muscles of the upper body and improves the mobility and blood circulation of the neck and shoulder area. Nordic walking is up to 46% more efficient than normal fitness walking, caloric expenditure increases up to 20% and the heart rate increases up to 6% over normal walking.

Nordic walking is a great exercise mode due to its overall impact and high-energy consumption. It is an excellent exercise for weight loss, and it also has many other health effects. The Finnish Helsinki Polytechnic’s Faculty of Health Care studied the impact on women of regular participation in Nordic walking during the spring of1999. The study showed that neck and shoulder difficulties disappeared among more than half of the participants and that the mobility of the cervical and pectoral spine improved significantly. For older persons the use of poles is a safety factor as they help prevent falls while at the same time improving mobility.

It’s worth noting that correct Nordic walking technique and effective training are best achieved with equipment designed especially for Nordic walking. The shaft should be made of composite material making the poles light and durable. The grip of the pole should be ergonomically designed with a special strap to support the hand. The pole’s lower part’s quick release spike tip should be forward-angled to allow the metal tip to hit the ground at the correct angle to ensure a firm grip on harder and slippery surfaces. An asphalt paw is available especially for walking on asphalt to effectively absorb the impact of the pole.

A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst showed that using poles lets hikers lengthen their strides, put less strain on their knees, and generally feel more comfortable. The hikers studied did not expend less energy, but the increase in stability made long treks easier.

All things considered, Nordic walking appears to be an easy way to pack more power into your exercise minutes.

Web sites with information about Nordic walking poles are:

By Kyle Roderick

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