Nordic Pole Walking: The Definitive Beginner’s Guide – 2023

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Nordic Pole Walking: The origins, benefits, and technique of ‘the smarter way to walk’

Wondering how Nordic Pole Walking stands apart from other outdoor workout routines such as walking, jogging, cycling? Where did it come from, what are the benefits, and how do I get started with the smarter way to walk? Then this beginner’s guide to Nordic pole walking is the perfect resource for you.

Aside from being a welcomed opportunity to get outdoors, Nordic Walking strikes a perfect balance between an exhilarating cardio exercise and a vigorous muscle workout for your shoulders, arms, core, and legs. Yet, unlike conventional cardio routines like walking or jogging, Nordic Pole Walking offers a more efficient and low-impact exercise that engages 90% of your muscles.

The origins of Nordic Pole Walking

You may be familiar with the sight: You’re at the park, and you see a couple of people pass you by, their posture straight and walking in a coordinated fashion with a pole firmly gripped in each hand.

If you have a particularly keen eye, you may have noticed their walking shares a striking resemblance to cross-country skiing, and indeed you would be right!

Nordic walking first emerged in Finland in the early 1900s as a way for cross-country skiers to train during the summer months. “Ski walking” as it was called at the time was developed on the basis of off-season ski-training while using one-piece ski poles.

Over the years, health experts started to take note of the health benefits Nordic walking has to offer, and advocates promoted the sport that grew in popularity and evolved into the modern activity many enjoy today.

One such pioneer is Leena Jääskeläinen, a Finnish gym teacher and skier who introduced pole walking as a part of her school’s physical education in the 1960s.

“The skis and poles at the school where I was teaching were in very little use, so I decided to take the opportunity to use the poles in a more versatile way, which also allowed me to make the P.E. lessons more efficient,” said Jääskeläinen in an interview with the International Council of Nordic Walking.

Later, Jääskeläinen began incorporating pole walking exercises into the curriculum as a lecturer in the Faculty of Sports Science at the University of Jyväskylä.

In 1987, Jääskeläinen participated in the Finlandia Walk that marked the first documented case of the sport’s appearance in a public event.

The image of Nordic pole walking has advanced significantly from its early days. Today, walkers no longer use their clunky ski poles but rather custom-made Nordic walking poles that are light-weight, shorter and fitted with rubber tips for suitable traction.

Benefits of Nordic Pole Walking

Now that we’re more familiar with the origins of Nordic Pole Walking, just what are the benefits?

Nordic pole walking involves applying force to the poles with each stride to speed up and intensify their gait. As a result, Nordic walkers use more of their entire body (with greater intensity) receiving further fitness benefits not achievable with normal walking.

“When you add Nordic poles, you activate all of the muscles of the upper body as well. You’re engaging 80% to 90% of your muscles, as opposed to 50%, providing a substantial calorie-burning benefit.”

Cardiologist Aaron Baggish in Harvard Health Publishing,

Nordic walking also provides additional benefits in muscular strength compared to conventional walking, making it suitable for improving aerobic capacity and muscular strength as well as other components of functional fitness in a short period of time.

  • Improve posture and balance.
  • An inclusive exercise for weight management, improved fitness and toning.
  • An excellent exercise for effective chronic disease management (Ex: Parkinson’s Disease).
  • Reduces upper back, neck and shoulder pains.
  • Suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
  • The low-impact, high-intensity nature of Nordic Walking makes the activity especially beneficial for seniors.
  • Reduced stress on your hips and knees through the support of the poles.
  • Burn 46% more calories than conventional walking without significantly increasing perceived exertion.
  • Nordic walking provides additional benefits in upper-body muscular strength and mobility compared to conventional walking.
  • An exceptional exercise for lowering or managing body fat, cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Nordic walking is an effective and efficient mode of exercise to improve overall fitness for all ages, from youth to seniors.
  • Studies have recorded the positive effects of Nordic Pole Walking and increased blood flow in improving mental health and sleep disturbances.


Nordic walking poles come in one-piece, non-adjustable shaft versions, available in varying lengths, and telescoping two or three-piece versions of adjustable length. Telescoping poles are ‘one-size fits all’, and are more transportable.

Nordic walking poles feature a range of grips and wrist-straps, or rarely, no wrist-strap at all. The straps eliminate the need to tightly grasp the grips, which can be a barrier to some walkers.

The Nordixx walking poles we offer come with unique, ergonomically designed hand straps that provide an easy click-off system and comfortable fit for both hands.

Nordic walking poles come with removable rubber tips for use on asphalt and metal tips for offroad trails.

The Nordic Pole Walking Technique

This video produced by Nordixx Canada will guide you through the basic technique of setting your pole height and executing the proper Nordic Walking technique.

Video Contents:

  1. Adjust your Nordixx poles
  2. Improve your posture
  3. Walking while holding poles parallel to the ground
  4. Walking while dragging your poles
  5. Performing correct arm swing
  6. Feel the support of your hand straps
  7. Shoulder rotation
  8. Correcting common mistakes
  9. Walking uphill and downhill
  10. Warm-up and cooldown exercises
  11. Strengthening exercises

Whether you’ve just received your first pair of Nordic Walking Poles or simply interested in a new outdoor activity, we’re glad to welcome you to the sport. We know you’ll enjoy your newfound mobility and energy exploring your neighbourhood and keeping active.

In the market for a pair of new Nordic walking poles, accessories, or replacement parts? We’d love to help!

A special thank you to our local walkers for all your support. We hope to see all of you out and active soon!