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Nordic pole walking is great for seniors who need some additional support when walking to feel safe and secure and for you if you want to try something new.  

The main difference between nordic poles and regular trekking poles is the technique that is used. Both trekking poles (amazon link), and nordic poles (amazon link), have wrist supports. The difference in supports is that in all nordic poles, the loop actually straps down on your wrist to provide more support whereas, with regular trekking poles, this is not always the case. 

Adding another one or two points of contact when walking can help prevent falls and can be especially useful if you are walking on uneven or unsteady surfaces. 

In the remainder of this article, I will discuss the main proposed benefits of nordic pole walking versus walking with regular trekking poles and what you need to know to help you be your healthiest self. 

Table of Contents

    Key Takeaways

    • Nordic pole walking is similar to cross country skiing in that you are generating some power through your arms to assist with walking
    • The cardiovascular benefits of nordic pole walking is likely the same as regular, brisk walking. Do whichever one you enjoy the most, or, switch it up from time to time. 

    What is Nordic Pole Walking?

    Nordic pole walking is a technique that was developed in 1985 by Tom Rutlin, an American cross-country skier and coach. He called this the Exestride technique.

    This was then adopted by the Finnish Sports Institute and the term Nordic Pole Walking was created. 

    Most proponents of nordic pole walking will talk about the superior health benefits of nordic pole walking over regular walking, hiking with trekking poles, and such. 

    I’ve gotta say, I think their claims are overblown. 

    Sure, NPW (nordic pole walking), is great if it gets you out walking and I do like that it’s very focused on fast walking with extra points of support (especially for those with balance issues), however, there is no difference between regular fast walking and nordic walking in terms of overall cardiovascular benefit. 

    The only slight difference I could see with walking with or without poles would be that there is some weightbearing included in the upper body which could help slightly with strength and bone density. You’d be better off lifting weights for upper body strength, muscle mass, and bone density, just FYI. 

    Is Nordic Pole Walking Good For You?

    Yes, nordic pole walking is good for you, particularly if you want to add a little variety into your workout or walking routine. 

    If you have balance issues it can also be quite helpful to use walking poles to help increase your points of contact when walking, reducing your fall risk. 

    Is Nordic Pole Walking Better Than Regular Walking?

    I haven’t seen any data to say that nordic pole walking is better than regular walking for cardiovascular health. If you walk at a brisk pace with each of these you will achieve the same cardiovascular benefit. 

    Don’t get caught up in the marketing of this. 

    Yes, it “looks” good to stand up tall and it sounds smart to focus on posture, however, if it takes 20 minutes to teach someone how to “walk,” properly, it’s probably over-complicated. 

    So again, my take is, do it if it appeals to you and it’s going to get you moving more. If not, don’t worry about it and just go walk. 

    Are Nordic Poles Really That Much Different Than Trekking Poles?

    The main difference with the nordic poles is that the rubber component that makes contact with the ground is designed to be at an angle whereas trekking poles generally have rounded or flattened edges at the end of the pole. 

    This angled edge of the nordic poles allows for more efficient push-off with the poles allowing you to generate some power with your arms. This is very similar to cross-country skiing as you are also generating power through your arms. 

    Is the Nordic Walking Technique Complicated?

    Compared to regular walking, the nordic walking technique is needlessly overcomplicated in many videos and descriptions. 

    It’s fairly easy if you break it down in this way:

    • Adjust height of poles to their proper height
    • Strap poles onto your wrists 
    • Start walking! 

    Sure, there are a few more steps to it than that but if you’re really interested in that you can just watch this super in-depth tutorial on youtube. It’s a bit more than you need but after watching it for 20 minutes you’ll definitely have the technical knowledge to then go out and practice.