Nordic Walking – A Whole Body Workout

nordic walkingThere are many different types of fitness walking.

You may be familiar with race walking and power walking, but then there’s also Nordic Walking. It may well be your new favorite fitness activity.

When I got my first Nordic walking poles from my mother years ago, the only fitness walking I did for a long time was Nordic walking. After trying Nordic walking, regular walking felt pointless.

What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking is known by a number of different names. It’s called pole walking, ski walking and Nordic ski walking.

It started when Finnish cross-country skiers were looking for a way to train during the summer months and took to trails with their cross country poles. In 1997, a Finn named Marko Kantaneva designed the first poles made specifically for Nordic walking.

The biggest difference between regular and Nordic walking is the use of arms and upper body. Instead of swinging your arms like you might do when you jog or walk quickly, in Nordic walking you swing your poles. Each step forward is met with the opposite arm and pole coming forward. The pole touches the ground and extends back behind you.

Gearing Up For Nordic Walking

There are two essential pieces of equipment for Nordic walking.

The first piece of equipment you’ll want to invest in is proper Nordic walking poles. Nordic walking poles come either fixed or adjustable (i.e. collapsible). Fixed length poles are better than adjustable, because they are usually lighter and less likely to collapse during the walk.

My first pair of poles was collapsible, and they had a bad habit of collapsing in cold weather. It was very frustrating.

(TIP: Correct pole size is 0,70 x your height. )

Nordic walking poles come with rubber tips or asphalt paws. Rubber tips are used for better traction and less impact when you walk on hard surfaces like asphalt or pavement. When you walk on soft surfaces like sand or snow, you remove the rubber tips to reveal the metal spike beneath. Using poles when walking makes it a more dynamic movement when you push off from the ground with them.nordic walking poles

You can purchase a good pair of Nordic walking poles at Amazon.  You may also find them at fitness and outdoor stores. Exel and Swix are both good brands.

The other piece of equipment you’ll need are good fitness walking shoes. You want shoes that offer cushioning and stability but a flexible sole fit for walking. Avoid using running shoes for fitness walking.

Benefits of Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is a top choice for fitness walkers for many reasons. It

    • effectively increases cardiovascular fitness
    • engages muscles in the upper body – chest, shoulders, arms and core
    • burns 15 to 45 percent more calories than regular walking*
    • is effective low-impact exercise
    • is suitable for seniors, people with joint problems, injuries etc
    • improves balance.

      In my opinion, the best benefit of Nordic walking is that it relieves muscle tensions in the upper body. It’s a perfect form of exercise for people working at desk jobs all day.

      *if you do it properly, that is!


      Nordic walking is relatively easy to start.  It takes some time to get used to walking with the poles,  but after a little practice you’re probably ready to go. You’ll be surprised how gentle yet effective Nordic walking is.

      But as with any new fitness program it’s recommended that you start slowly. If you’re new to walking you may want to walk for only a few minutes or a mile the first few times you head out.

      If you’re a seasoned fitness walker looking for a new challenge or a person wanting to lose some weight and get in shape, Nordic walking is a good choice.

      Best Wishes,



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      P.S. Click here to get your Nordic walking poles.



      1. This was interesting. I honestly thought that Nordic walking started in the US because all of a sudden, there were a lot of US people using the poles while walking. Yesterday, I saw a woman walking with the Nordic poles. So it’s still happening in Wisconsin.

        I am always in favor of exercises that improve balance because balance helps prevent injuries. We are never too young to start doing balance exercises to have a better chance to not get hurt. I learned that 2 years years ago when I slipped on black ice and landed on my head! I really appreciated my down hood at that moment. I probably recuperated faster because I was in shape.

        🙂 Marion

      2. Satu says:

        Good to hear that Nordic walking is taking over US too! 🙂 I know it’s very popular in Germany , but I was unsure about US.

      3. Hi Satu! I wanted to tell you that I have been doing laps of long-strided fast walking in between weightlifting sets. It is kind of a break from the weightlifting while not being a break from exercising. You know what I mean.

        So I did my 15 min. of fast and furious elliptical, did the weightlifting, taught two women how to bench press, and also walked 3/4 mile in between everything. It was a good workout and the walking laps kept it vigorous in between sets.

        So if you wonder if you have an influence on anyone, you do on me! Thanks for the comment, by the way.

        🙂 Marion

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