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What Is Nordic Walking & Is It Better Than Walking?

Walking is no doubt, one of the most common forms of exercise in the world, and millions of people all over the world practice walking regularly. However, there is a more fitness-oriented version of the standard or regular walking that is known as Nordic walking and it helps us in many ways. Now, what is Nordic walking? Is it better than walking? You might be having so many questions regarding this in your mind. Isn’t it? If yes, then read further to know about it.

What Is Nordic Walking & Is It Better Than Walking?

What Is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking is quite popular these days because it is simple and very easy to do and can be effectively done anywhere. Moreover, it has got several health benefits, like maintaining a consistent weight, preventing heart disease, and helping to fend off high blood pressure.

Now, what exactly is Nordic walking? Just imagine that you are in your neighborhood and mimicking the motion of cross-country skiing with the help of walking poles to push yourself as you walk along a trail. This is Nordic walking. This was originally designed as a summer training routine for skiers. Currently, Nordic walking is extremely popular in the United States as an exercise regimen, particularly among older adults.

Nordic walking is a more fitness-oriented version of standard walking and participants who participate in this form of walking use trekking or walking poles to maintain their balance and also to move more quickly. These poles let the participants or the Nordic walkers use their upper body for propelling them along, pushing off with the walking poles with each step that they take. So, Nordic walking could be considered as more of an all-body workout.

Who Can Do Nordic Walking?

Now coming to the point, who can do Nordic walking, we can say that anyone who enjoys walking can try Nordic walking. All one requires is a set of trekking or walking poles and a bit of practice.

It has been shown that Nordic walking has great benefits for older adults. This is actually a combination of high intensity, yet a low impact workout and can be done easily by the older people who want to remain in shape.

What Are The Techniques Of Nordic Walking?

There are a lot of techniques of Nordic walking. Let us take a look at some of them here.

Double Poling: This Nordic walking technique involves planting both your poles symmetrically right in front of you and pulling yourself forward as you slowly walk a few steps. In this technique, you double pole and then walk 3 steps. Thus is is named double poling Nordic technique

Single Poling: Single poling is another technique of Nordic walking. This technique mimics what your feet are doing, with only one pole held in front of you for each stride. Do this type of walking either with the same-side arm and leg together or with your opposite arm and leg together. In this technique of Nordic walking, the Nordic walking poles and foot will be striking and propelling simultaneously. You can start out with single poling, and gradually build up your speed and vigorous arm swinging.

How To Start With Nordic Walking?

To start with Nordic walking, you should attend a beginner’s course where your instructor could teach you the basics of the Nordic walking techniques. You can then carry on the Nordic walking with a group or strike out on your own.

The basic premise with Nordic walking poles is that you are planting the poles in the ground and pushing them backwards, which aids to propel you forwards. While you are walking, you would plant the walking poles into the ground at an angle of 45 degrees behind your body, pushing down through the wrist strap towards the pole’s tip.

While practicing Nordic walking, right pole hits the ground at the same time as your left foot and vice versa. You will gradually learn to grip the walking pole as it swings forwards and release it as it swings backwards.

What Do You Need For Nordic Walking?

When we talk about what you need for Nordic walking, below are some equipment’s and items that you will need. Below are some of them.

Nordic Walking Poles: For Nordic walking fixed length poles are preferred as they are lighter and vibrate less. The more the carbon content, the stronger and lighter are the poles. At least 50% carbon is a good preference.

Walking Shoes: Shoes that you need to wear while Nordic walking, should be waterproof and supportive. The soles of your shoes should be flexible with a good grip.

Comfortable Clothing: You also need comfortable clothing to wear while practicing Nordic walking. Some of the comfortable clothing includes a waterproof jacket, base layer, trousers or leggings.

Some Tips For Nordic Walking:

You should follow some tips while Nordic walking. Below are some of those:

  • Always dress comfortably and wear clothing that allows enough of arm swinging.
  • Remain hydrated. Drink water in advance if you are walking less than 60 minutes, else drink water while walking your route.
  • Do at least a 10-minute of warm-up and 10-minute cool-down.

Is Nordic Walking Better Than Walking?

Nordic walking is an alternative approach to standard walking that provides substantial benefits over it. This can be considered as an alternative approach to some of the basic forms of exercise that provides substantial benefits over standard walking. It has been shown that Nordic walking can increase your strength, improve conditioning, and also burn more calories.

Moreover, when we talk if it is better than walking, it can be said that you will gradually find that you can walking faster and further without feeling that you are working much harder than your regular walking.

A US study has shown that Nordic walking can burn around 20% more calories than walking, since you are using more muscle mass while Nordic walking as compared to regular walking.(1)

Nordic walking is also linked with reductions in fat mass, LDL cholesterol, depression, anxiety, waist circumference, chronic pain, and increases the HDL or the good cholesterol, muscle strength, endurance, body flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and overall quality of life. Moreover, you become more stable with Nordic walking.

Nording walking offers an additional benefits in the muscular strength of your upper body compared to conventional walking. It is, in fact, an efficient and effective mode of exercise for improving overall fitness of older adults.(2)

If you do Nordic walking regularly, the walking poles would help you build lean muscle in the arms, abs, shoulders, and chest, which cannot be achieved from traditional walking workouts alone.

Nording walking helps in building and maintaining strength and develop aerobic capacity, without putting unwanted stress on feet, hips, or knees.

In addition to all this, when we talk if Nordic walking is better than walking, we can say that the former one is quiet fun to be engaged with for improving your overall health.

Final Words:

Nordic walking offers an exercise foundation for anyone, ranging from people who just look for an activity to those who look to reduce weight and also those who are interested in keeping higher levels of fitness in their life. So, if you can, then it is better to try Nordic walking and get maximum benefit out of your exercise. However, make sure that if you are a beginner, please take a proper training under a coach and gradually start Nordic walking by your own.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 30, 2021

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