Winter has been brutal, and thankfully it’s almost over. But you might want to dig into your winter gear for one item: Nordic walking poles. Fashioned like ski poles, they can be used on all kinds of dry terrain — no snow required.
A wealth of research published over the last 25 years reveals that Nordic walking burns as much as 40 percent more calories than regular walking because you engage more muscle groups when using the poles.
“In Nordic walking, you keep your arms fairly straight and swing them from the shoulder,” explains Ann Claiborne, a Colorado-based nurse, competition prep coach and national-level Figure competitor. “That means you’re using your delts, core, upper back and triceps, as well as your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.”
The additional muscles mean a higher calorie burn just from walking. Add in some speed intervals and you’re incinerating up to 300 calories in only 30 minutes! So get off that treadmill, grab your poles and hit the road.
Walk This Way
- Grip the poles lightly with your arms hanging at your sides. The poles should be angled about 45 degrees (from your hand to the ground) behind you at all times.
- Take a step with your right foot, simultaneously swinging your left arm up from the shoulder as if reaching out to shake someone’s hand.
- As the rubber tip of the pole catches the ground behind you, push into it to help propel you forward and engage your core.
- Your arms should stay straight (but not stiff!) as you walk.
Nordic Pole Interval Workout
0:00-5:00: Walk at about 3.0 mph without using the poles; tuck them under your arms to get them out of the way.
5:00-10:00: Walk using the poles and kick up your pace to 4.0. Focus on pushing off through your toes with each stride.
10:00-15:00: Slow down a bit to 3.5 and focus on using your arms to help propel you forward.
15:00-20:00: Increase your pace to 4.5 mph and really get moving. Use both your arms and your legs to cover more ground with each stride.
20:00-25:00: Maintain your 4.5 mph pace and focus on using your glutes and hamstrings to propel you forward.
25:00-30:00: Walk at an easy pace — about 2.5 — for five minutes. Spend five to 10 minutes stretching to finish up.
*For a greater calorie burn, incorporate running up a set of stairs (no poles required!) into your walking routine.