Health Benefits of Nordic Walking

Exercise for heart health

Nordic walking has caught on, especially among seniors, in recent years but you may be wondering what the health benefits of hiking with twin walking poles are for older adults.

According to the American Heart Association, a regular walking program can lower blood pressure, increase stamina, prevent weight gain and improve cholesterol levels. Walking with nordic poles can help burn more calories by involving the upper body in the activity as well as help walkers maintain better posture and overall muscle endurance. Nordic or ski walking helps those with balance issues, hip and knee problems or other limitations to walk comfortably and avoid a loss of function.

By reducing stress on shins, knees, hips and back, walking poles can help people with diabetic nerve pain or arthritis enjoy regular activity. They are also useful for stroke or hip replacement recovery. By engaging the arms and keeping hands above the heart, the use of trekking poles may also have the added benefit of reducing swelling of the hands many walkers and hikers suffer and improve circulation.

Tips to get you started

  • Start on flat terrain for short periods of time, increase duration and difficulty slowly
  • Choose sturdy, one piece poles that are sized correctly
  • Hold poles perpendicular to the ground with a light grip; use wrist strap to avoid dropping
  • Trekking poles should allow your elbows to bend at a comfortable 90-degree angle
  • Use rubber tips if walking on asphalt or cement to protect tips and improve grip
  • Try joining a nordic walking group to keep you motivated

Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. People with underlying chronic health conditions or recovering from surgery may want to work with a physical therapist to develop a walking program and fit poles properly. Specialized poles are available to accommodate arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and hip problems.