Nordic Pole Walking
The Health Benefits
There are approximately 10 - 15 million Nordic Pole walkers in Europe.
Nordic Pole walking is the fastest growing low-impact activity in Canada
- Nordic Pole Walking burns up to 46% more calories.
- Increases heart- and cardiovascular training up to 22%.
- Incorporates 90 % of all body muscles.
- Helps to eliminate back, shoulder and neck pain.
- Less impact on hip, knee and foot joints.
- Increases production of “positive” hormones.
- Supports stress management and mental disorders.
- Develops upright body posture.
There are approximately 350 clinical and scientific reports about the health benefits of Nordic Pole walking available in scientific publications.
Learning more about the Scientific Studies about the benefits of Nordic Pole Walking
If you are unable to attend a Free Nordic Pole Walking clinic or want to purchase: poles, fanny packs, pole tips... just visit:
Health Benefits of Nordic Walking: A Systematic Review.
A Nordic Walking group intervention for breast cancer survivors.
Patients’ vitality had improved, whereas perceived shoulder symptom severity and limitations in daily activities had decreased. Goniometric data indicated that range of motion (forward flexion, abduction and external rotation) of the affected shoulder improved significantly within ten weeks of training. Results from this explorative study suggest that Nordic Walking is a feasible and potentially valuable tool in the rehabilitation of patients with breast cancer. Fischer et al., 2015
Effects of selected forms of physical activity on body posture in the sagittal plane in women post breast cancer treatment.
Balanced postural changes were only identified among the women in the Nordic Walking group. Hanuszkiewicz et al., 2014
The effects of walking poles on shoulder function in breast cancer survivors.
The data suggest that using a walking pole exercise routine for 8 weeks significantly improved muscular endurance of the upper body. Sprod et al., 2005
Randomized trial of Nordic walking in patients with moderate to severe heart failure.
A study published by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, concluded that walking with poles is superior to standard cardiac rehab, even for those following mild to moderate heart failure. Keast et al., 2013
The influence of systematic pulse-limited physical exercise on the parameters of the cardiovascular system in patients over 65 years of age.
Systematic NW physical exercise limited by the pulse had a beneficial effect on the physical performance of elderly persons as assessed with main parameters. A short 6-week programme of endurance exercises had a hypotensive effect in elderly persons over 65 years of age. Chomiuk et al., 2013
Effects of Nordic walking training on exercise capacity and fitness in men participating in early, short-term inpatient cardiac rehabilitation after an acute coronary syndrome–a controlled trial.
Nordic Walking may improve exercise capacity, lower body endurance and coordination of movements in patients with good exercise tolerance participating in early, short-term rehabilitation after an acute coronary syndrome. Kocur et al., 2009
Changes in level of VO2max, blood lipids, and waist circumference in the response to moderate endurance training as a function of ovarian aging.
A 12-week moderate intensity Nordic walking program was administered to the cohort. Significant decreases in BMI, TF, LDL, TGs, and WC and increase in HDL in premenopausal and perimenopausal women indicate the outstanding role the appropriately chosen moderate endurance training may play in the quality of daily life in perimenopausal women. Hagner et al., 2009
Impact of physical exercise on reaction time in patients with Parkinson’s disease-data from the Berlin BIG Study.
Supervised physical exercise with Lee Silverman Voice Treatment-BIG or Nordic walking is associated with improvement in cognitive aspects of movement preparation. Ebersbach et al., 2014
Effects of a flexibility and relaxation programme, walking, and nordic walking on Parkinson’s disease.
Assessment after completion of the training showed that pain was reduced in all groups, and balance and health-related quality of life were improved. Nordic walking was superior to the flexibility and relaxation programme and walking in improving postural stability, stride length, gait pattern and gait variability. Reuter et al., 2011
Nordic walking improves mobility in Parkinson’s disease.
These preliminary findings suggest that Nordic walking could provide a safe, effective, and enjoyable way to reduce physical inactivity in PD and to improve the quality of life. A large randomized clinical trial now appears justified. van Eijkeren et al., 2008
Physical activity of depressed patients and their motivation to exercise: Nordic Walking in family practice.
Nordic walking increased the patients’ physical activity and improved their mood. Suija et al., 2009
Acute effects of a single bout of moderate exercise on psychological well-being in patients with affective disorder during hospital treatment.
A self-paced but supervised single Nordic walking session seems to be effective in improving acute psychological well-being in patients with affective disorder. Stark et al., 2012
Effects of Nordic walking on cardiovascular risk factors in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes, impaired or normal glucose tolerance.
Nordic walking improved anthropometric measurements and exercise capacity. However, unsupervised Nordic walking may not provide a sufficient increase in exercise intensity to achieve ultimate health-promoting benefits on the cardiovascular parameters assessed in this study, particularly for those with disturbed glucose regulation. Fritz et al., 2013
Physical activity in pregnancy and in breast-feeding period in obese mothers.
Considering common recommendations for training, as well as careful measures and contraindications, a moderate individual training to maintain physical and psychic fitness is desirable. Many kinds of sports like jogging, Nordic walking, swimming and cycling, for example, can be carried out in a pregnancy without any risks and furthermore promote the health of the future mother and child. Korsten-Reck et al, 2010
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Nordic poles immediately improve walking distance in patients with intermittent claudication.
These results show that Nordic Pole Walking (NPW) immediately enables patients with intermittent claudication to walk further with less pain, despite a higher workload. NPW might also be a useful exercise strategy for improving the cardiovascular fitness of patients with intermittent claudication. Oakley et al., 2008
Short-term and long-term effects of Nordic Walking training on balance, functional mobility, muscle strength and aerobic endurance among Hungarian community-living older people: a feasibility study.
Balance, functional mobility and aerobic endurance significantly improved in the Nordic walking group. This study showed that Nordic Walking is a simple, well–tolerated and effective physical activity for older people in Hungary. Viraq et al., 2014
Effect Of Walking Poles On Dynamic Gait Stability on the Elderly
Texas Women’s University study, which concluded that walking poles provided increased gait stability at both preferred and fast speed. Kwon, Silver, Ryu, Yoon, Newton & Shim, 2006 (unpublished)
Effects of Nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults.
While all modes of exercise improved various components of fitness, Nordic walking provided the best well-rounded benefits by improving upper-body strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. Therefore, Nordic walking is recommended as an effective and efficient mode of concurrent exercise to improve overall functional fitness in older adults. Takeshima et al., 2013
Effects of walking poles on lower extremity gait mechanics.
There were differences in kinetic variables between walking with and without poles. The use of walking poles enabled subjects to walk at a faster speed with reduced vertical ground reaction forces, vertical knee joint reaction forces, and reduction in the knee extensor angular impulse and support moment, depending on the poling condition used. Willson et al., 2001
Changes in in vivo knee contact forces through gait modification
Health benefits of Nordic walking: a systematic review.
A study by Henkel et al. (2008) found effect of selected prevention concepts on functional health of persons with nonspecific chronic recurrent neck pain. Observed a reduced in unspecific, chronic neck pain and increased quality of life Tschentscher et al., 2013
Supervised and non-supervised Nordic walking in the treatment of chronic low back pain a single blind randomized clinical trial.
For pain, disability, and patient specific function the supervised Nordic walking group generally faired best however no statistically significant differences were found. Hartvigisen et al., 2010
Does moderate-to-high intensity Nordic walking improve functional capacity and pain in fibromyalgia? A prospective randomized controlled trial.
Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise by means of Nordic walking twice a week for 15 weeks was found to be a feasible mode of exercise, resulting in improved functional capacity and a decreased level of activity limitations. Pain severity did not change over time during the exercise period. Mannerkorpi et al., 2010
Effects of Nordic Walking and Pilates exercise programs on blood glucose and lipid profile in overweight and obese postmenopausal women in an experimental, nonrandomized, open-label, prospective controlled trial.
Exercise training in accordance with the NW model causes statistically and clinically more significant changes in glucose and basic blood lipid levels than do Pilates and dietary intervention alone. Hagner-Derengowska et al., 2015
Nordic Pole Walking /Frequently Asked Questions (The Ultimate Nordic Pole Walking Book
What equipment do I need?
You need a pair of Nordic poles and sneakers and adequate dress according to your local climate. Then, you are ready to go.
Where can I Nordic Pole Walk?
Nordic Pole Walking can be performed on literally any surface, just about everywhere. On hard surface (pavement) you will use the rubber tips. On clay, sand, soil and grass you will remove the rubber tips.
Which parts of my body are being trained/exercised?
Nordic Pole Walking trains and exercises 90% of your body muscles (=600+ muscles), the cardiovascular system and also burns calories — all in ONE exercise.
How does the training affect my upper body?
Nordic Pole Walking involves approximately 90% of your muscles and especially engages your upper body and arm muscles.
Is Nordic Pole Walking good for Cardiovascular Training, too?
Nordic Pole Walking increases your heart rate by approximately 15 beats per minute.
How much does Nordic Pole Walking increase energy consumption?
Nordic Pole Walking increases your energy consumption by an average of 20%.
How does Nordic Pole Walking lead to an erect body posture?
Nordic Pole Walking leads to stabilization in the spinal musculature and upright body posture by the very nature of the exercises.
How many Calories are burned in one hour of Nordic Pole Walking?
Nordic Pole Walking increases burning of calories by up to 46% in comparison to walking exercise without Nordic Poles.
Is Nordic Pole Walking good for my neck and shoulder mobility?
Nordic Pole Walking significantly increases the lateral mobility of your neck and spine.
Is there less impact to the joints than with jogging or running?
Nordic Pole Walking reduces the impact on your knee and hip joints by 30%.
Does Nordic Pole Walking help reduce pain?
Nordic Pole Walking mitigates pain and muscle tension in the neck, shoulder and back regions.
What is the correct length of the poles I should be using?
The correct length of the poles is 65% of your body height.
Should I use adjustable or non-adjustable poles?
Beginners should start with adjustable Nordic Poles.
What is the Difference between Nordic Walking Poles and ski and/or hiking poles?
The hand loops on Nordic Poles are designed to perform the correct technique and to achieve the most benefits for the upper body muscles. You cannot use hiking or ski poles for Nordic Pole Walking because they are designed for different purposes.
What to Wear for Snow Sports
Staying Dry is the key!
Wearing clothing designed specifically to keep you warm and dry in one's comfort level when walking outdoors can make a big difference. Versatile, functional winter apparel is worth the investment. Here is basic information about dressing for winter:
The best way to dress for winter is to wear multiple layers of clothing. This system gives participants the flexibility to add or remove layers depending on the weather and activities. Most commonly, winter sports participants wear three layers: wicking, insulating and weather protection.
- This is the layer worn next to the skin, usually, thermal underwear.
- Look for thermal underwear made of a synthetic — usually polyester — fiber that has "wicking" power. As participants perspire, the fibers will wick (move) moisture away from the skin and pass it through the fabric so it can evaporate. This keeps skiers warm, dry and comfortable. Silk is also a good, natural fabric that has wicking abilities.
- Even though it's cold, snow sports will make participants sweat — especially if they are cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. This is why the wicking layer is very important.
- This middle layer includes sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and pullovers. The purpose of this layer is to keep heat in and cold out, which is accomplished by trapping air between the fibers.
- Popular insulation materials include fleece, a synthetic material which maintains its insulating ability even when wet and spreads the moisture out so it dries quickly, and wool, which naturally wicks away moisture.
- The exterior layer serves as the guard against the elements of winter. It should repel moisture from snow, sleet or rain; block the wind, and let perspiration escape to the outside to evaporate. Specially engineered fabric is used in snow sports jackets and pants to accomplish this moisture blockage and transport. The common industry term for this fabric is "waterproof/breathable." It is this fabric that makes snow sports jackets and pants so effective in keeping participants warm, dry and comfortable.
- Most genuine winter shells, parkas and pants are made waterproof/breathable by using tightly woven fabrics teamed with a coating or laminate. This keeps moisture on the outside but allows perspiration to escape.
- Look for functional hoods, cuffs, pockets and zippers — details that truly make garments comfortable in a snowstorm.
- Some jackets and pants are shells (no insulation), some include built-in insulation, and others have zip-in insulation layers. Choose your protection layer based on temperatures and snow conditions in your area or where you like to vacation.
Up to 60 percent of the body's heat can escape from an uncovered head. This is why wearing a hat or headband when it's cold. There are thousands of styles of hats and headbands, usually made from fleece or wool. Many wool hats have non-itch liners. Helmets are becoming very popular. Not only do they protect the head during falls, but they also provide warmth. A fleece neck gaiter (like a collar) or facemask is a must on very cold days.
Sunglasses and goggles
Snow, because it is a reflective surface, makes ultraviolet (UV) rays stronger. On sunny days, sunglasses are essential to protect the eyes. On flat-light days or when it's snowing, goggles are vital. Special lens colors increase the contrast in order to properly discern terrain features.
Gloves and mittens
Look for gloves and mittens that use waterproof/breathable fabrics. Mittens, in general, are warmer than gloves, but offer less dexterity. Consider the type of activity when choosing between gloves and mittens. Gloves for Nordic walking and cross-country skiing tend to be lighter-weight to allow for extra movement and a higher degree of perspiration.
One pair of lightweight or medium weight socks works best for Nordic Walking, skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. Socks are made from a variety of materials, including polyester, silk and wool. Socks designed specifically for snow sports have wicking properties similar to thermal underwear, meaning your feet will stay drier and more comfortable.
To avoid slipping I recommend that you purchase a pair of Stabilicers to fit over your shoe or boot. You can purchase them on the internet from L.L.Bean - ask for Stabilicers Lite $19.95 for shipping or tax if you order a singel pair at a time.
Examples of Scientific Studies about Nordic Pole Walking:
- Nordic Pole Walking burns up to 46% more calories than exercise walking without poles or moderate jogging. It is an excellent exercise for optimum weight loss combined with a balanced nutritional plan.
(Cooper Institute, 2004, Dallas and other)
- Increases heart- and cardio-vascular training up to 22%.
(Foley 1994; Jordan 2001, Morss et al. 2001; Pocari et.al.1997 and other)
- Incorporates 90 % of all body muscles in one exercise and increases endurance of arm muscles (Triceps) and neck- and shoulder muscles (Latissimus) to 38%
(Karawan et al. 1992 and other)
- Helps to eliminates back, shoulder and neck pain.
(Attila et al., 1999 and other)
- Less impact on hip, knee and foot joints; about 26% in comparison to jogging.
(Wilson et al., 2001; Hagen 2006, and other)
- Increases production of “positive” hormones. Decreases “negative” hormones.
(R.M. Klatz et.al., 1999; Dharma Singh Khalsa, 1997)
- Supports stress management and mental disorders.
(Stoughton 1992; Mommert-Jauch, 2003)
- Develops upright body posture.
Shawn M. Nisbet, RHN, CFA
Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Teaher, Certified Fitness Consultant
& Nordic Pole Walking Master Instructor