Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Urban or Nordic Poling

How was I to know?

I have seen a few people in the neighbourhood walking with the help of poles. They look like cross country ski poles but with rubber tips rather than steel spikes. Granted I viewed my energetic walking pace and certainly my running gait as superior to the odd sight of people poling down the street.

Now I learn that Urban Poling is a growing and popular sport. It is also known as Nordic Walking. It evolved from an off-season ski-training activity known as ski walking, hill bounding or ski striding to become a way of exercising year-round. Ski walking and hill bounding with poles has been practiced for decades as dry land training for competitive Nordic skiers. Nordic walking poles are significantly shorter than those recommended for cross-country skiing. The result is a full-body walking workout that can burn significantly more calories without a change in perceived exertion or having to walk faster, due to the incorporation of many large core, and other upper-body muscles which comprise more than 90% of the body's total muscle mass and do work against resistance with each stride. 'Normal walking' utilizes less than 70% of muscle mass with full impact on the joints of the legs and feet. Nordic Ski Walking produces up to a 46% increase in energy consumption compared to walking without poles.

Why would a person do this? It has some surprising benefits.
• With no more perceived effort than walking it is a full body workout
• It Exercises the hard to exercise, “trunk” muscles
• It burn from 20-47 % more calories than ‘ordinary’ walking
• It take damaging stress off of your joints, hips knees and ankles
• It provides greatly increased cardio workout (10-15 more heartbeats per minute than regular walking)
• It helps maintain and correct posture
• It can be practiced on almost any terrain (asphalt, gravel, grass, snow, etc.)
• It is clinically recommended to aid people in recovery from osteoporosis, arthritis, breast cancer, neurological and heart conditions

Check it out at

Watch the one minute Video about nordic poling


  1. Thanks, Ron. Very interesting. I like to use a pole when I walk and I always take it along when we travel in our camper. But when we travel by plane/train/bus etc., I have to leave my walking stick at home. I have seen people out on hikes with telescoping poles and tried someone’s out, up in Jasper. Very nice. I put them on my wish list but haven’t done anything about it. Your info and links stirs the pot again.

  2. By telescoping poles it sounds like these could be packed in small travel cases - correct Terry?

  3. Walking with poles is the best! It is important to note however that quality one-piece Nordic Walking Poles are safe, lighter and much more durable than cheap twist-locking adjustable length/telescoping/collapsible poles. When skiers practice ski walking and hill bounding they use one-piece poles that are sized correctly. Twist-locking poles also typically do NOT hold up well during Nordic Running either. Individuals with balance issues should also avoid twist-locking poles.

    The top selling Nordic Walking Poles form SWIX of Norway and EXEL of Finland are equipped with special Nordic Walking Straps - kind of like fingerless gloves. The best straps are patented by the Salomon Ski Co.

    Over 7 million Europeans are Nordic Walking in the city, in the country and up in the mountains.

    For info about Nordic Walking technique check out the American Nordic Walking System at WWW.SKIWALKING.COM