Nordic Walking Advantages
Nordic walking is a bit like cross-country skiing on dry land. When you walk, you hold lightweight poles to give your upper body a workout, too. The sport offers many of the benefits of cross-country skiing and has some advantages over both walking and jogging. All you need are some walking poles and a good pair of walking shoes to begin.
What we know today as Nordic walking actually began in the 1930s when cross-country skiers in Finland were looking for a way to keep fit during the summer months. In the 1980s and 1990s, studies found that walking with poles enhanced cardiovascular, muscular and aerobic fitness. The sport of Nordic walking was developed by a Finnish sports equipment maker, and the activity has been spreading in popularity in around the world.
When you walk with Nordic walking poles, you can burn up to 40 percent more calories than walking without poles. The Mayo Clinic explains that by adding arm movements to your walk, you're giving yourself a full-body workout that heightens the aerobic intensity and helps you burn more calories. CBS News reports that researchers at the Cooper Institute in Dallas found that a person who might burn 350 calories during an hour walk could burn up to 500 calories by using walking poles. Nordic walking offers the intensity of running without the impact on your joints.
Stability and Stress
Nordic walking also offers advantages over both walking and running for people who may have health or balance problems. The poles help you stay more balanced and provide a sense of stability as you move. They help walkers to maintain proper posture through the upper body and take some of the pressure off the lower back, hips and knees. People with arthritis or back problems may find Nordic walking especially appealing.
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Like cross-country skiing, Nordic walking gives your upper body the workout you miss with regular walking and jogging. Intraspec.ca reports that Nordic walking can help release pain and muscle tension in the neck and shoulders and increase mobility. It notes the sport engages 90 percent of the body's muscles, providing a workout for the arms, shoulders and back, as well as the legs. Because Nordic walking involves so much of your body, it's important to warm up by stretching your arms and back, in addition to your legs, before beginning.