burn calories, build muscle and promote stability

Have you ever tried cross-country skiing in your own neighborhood? It may sound strange, but there is a form of exercise called “Nordic walking”, which involves the use of ski poles and can help you burn more calories than your usual walk. This type of exercise takes weight loss to a whole new level. Nordic walking can be practiced on sidewalks, grasslands and wooded paths. It promotes stability, improves coordination, works on more muscles and promotes heart health. This full-body workout can be your new go-to activity, and it gets you outside more often.

What is Nordic walking?

Originally, Nordic walking was practiced during cross-country skiers’ training sessions. It is popular in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe and attracts attention as an effective workout. To practice Nordic walking, go with ski poles while moving the opposite arm with the opposite leg. Rods make it a little harder to walk as you need arm and core strength to keep them in front of you as you move.

Why practice Nordic walking?

The intensity level is higher than normal walking, which works more muscles and burns more calories. It is also a form of cardiovascular exercise and that is why it is so popular among older people in Switzerland and other Scandinavian regions.

Benefits of Nordic walking

The main benefits of Nordic walking are that it works more muscle than just walking while working out the trunk and burns more calories. Here is an overview of the many benefits of Nordic walking:

1. Burns more calories

Nordic walking is said to increase calorie burning by 10% to 20%, even if your body does not notice this increase in intensity. A 2019 study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging showed that Nordic walking significantly reduced BMI, android fat and bone fat compared to regular walking. The researchers concluded that Nordic walking can serve as the most important tool to counteract obesity and overweight in middle-aged adults.

2. Work your upper body

Who knew you could train your arms, shoulders, chest and back muscles while walking? Walking with poles works with many more muscles in the body, especially the upper body, which is not very stressed when walking without poles. A randomized trial showed that a 12-week Nordic walking training program improved shoulder mobility and reduced upper body muscle soreness. In addition, Nordic walking does not strain the upper body, as walking with weights does. Not only do you work with these muscles, but you can also relax your shoulders, maintain a good posture and get into a rhythm.

3. Increase stability

Nordic walking is popular with the elderly because it provides increased stability. Using bars provides better posture and balance, which can be especially helpful for people with knee, leg or back problems. A systematic review and meta-analysis from 2018 suggests that Nordic walking in adults aged 60 to 92 may have improved dynamic balance, functional balance, flexibility in the lower body and aerobic capacity. The researchers concluded that this type of aerobic exercise is able to improve muscle strength, balance and quality of life in the elderly population. Another study evaluated the effectiveness of a six-week Nordic walking workout in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The results showed that this form of training improved the functional performance, the quality of walking and the quality of life.

4. Improves heart health

A systematic review published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which analyzed 1,800 patients, found that Nordic walking has a beneficial effect on resting heart rate and blood pressure compared to walking fast. In addition, patients experienced improvements in oxygen consumption and other measures of quality of life, according to the researchers.

5. An outdoor activity

One of the benefits of Nordic walking is that it allows you to get out and explore different terrains. You can walk around your neighborhood, on hiking trails, on ski mountains in the low season, and anywhere there is land to walk on. A systemic study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness indicates that engaging in physical activity outdoors has social, psychological, and physiological benefits. Researchers have found that these benefits are shown in young and old people by helping to prevent several health problems, including vitamin D deficiency, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.


There are several types of rods for Nordic walking. Some Nordic walking poles have gloves attached to their ends, forcing you to use your palms to control the bars instead of your fingers. There are also rods with straps and handles, but without gloves. Nordic rods come in different materials and tips. Aluminum and carbon fiber rods are popular because they are lighter and absorb shocks better.

Some poles have pointed tips that are better suited for unpaved trails, rubber tips that are better suited for paved trails or sidewalks, and “curves” that have been added to the tips to go in snow. There are even folding pegs that can fit in a suitcase when traveling. What a great way to explore new trails while training even better.

How (techniques)

It may take a few tries to get used to walking with rods and finding your favorite technique. Here are two types of techniques you can try:

The double stick: This technique consists of placing the two sticks in front of you symmetrically, and then pulling you forward as you walk. You take a few steps forward to reassemble your rods, then place them in front of you again.

Single Pole: This is how most people use their poles when cross-country skiing. You only use one stick at a time and move it up while stepping with your foot on the opposite side. Rod and opposite foot rise at the same time, and as you get used to the rhythm, you increase your speed and intensity. Once you have established your technique, you can play with the rhythm and try different pitches. You can make this a high-intensity workout by pushing hard for two or three minutes and then slowing down to recover.

Risks and side effects

If you are new to Nordic walking, start slowly and build momentum over time. Investigate the type of rods that best fit the terrain you want. Once you get used to the rhythm, you can set in motion and arm movements. If you feel short of breath or dizzy while walking, cool down and contact your doctor if it continues.


Nordic walking is practiced with poles, just like cross-country skiing. It can be practiced in any terrain and is a popular form. exercise in Scandinavian areas. Compared to normal or brisk walking, the use of sticks helps you burn calories better, strengthen your upper body, improve heart health and overall quality of life. Nordic walking is especially popular with older people as it improves stability, balance and overall strength.

* Presse Santé strives to disseminate health knowledge in a language that is accessible to all. IN NO CASE can the information provided replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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