Walking is one of the most underrated exercises out there. Walking can help reduce your risk of stroke, increase your cardiovascular fitness, improve your balance, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you manage your weight.
But, the problem is, many people find walking to be tough on their joints.
And that’s where walking poles come in. Whether you’re going for a casual walk through a park or you’re strenuously climbing a mountain, walking poles can make your experience more enjoyable.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of walking poles, check out this guide.
Related Read: Everest Base Camp Trekking Gear List
What are Walking Poles?
Before we dive into the benefits of walking poles, let’s discuss the basics. Namely, what exactly are walking poles?
Chances are, you’ve already seen someone using walking poles. Walking poles are a common accessory used by both hikers and walkers, and they’re similar to ski poles in appearance. Not only do these poles help you navigate rough terrain, but they also help workout your whole body, as with each stride you take, you need to push down on the poles.
When you walk on regular terrain with walking poles, it’s known as Nordic walking.
Originally, Nordic walking was meant to serve as a cross-training activity for skiers in the off-season. However, the sport is now enjoyed by athletes and non-athletes alike.
Nordic Walking Technique
To reap the full benefits of Nordic walking, you need to make sure that you’re using the correct walking technique.
Here’s how to use your walking poles:
- Walk with your poles alongside you, allowing your arms to swing in natural opposition to your legs
- Walk from heel to toe, and slowly lengthen your stride by using a fuller arm swing
- Strap your poles in, and let them drag behind you as you continue at the same pace
- Next, grip your poles and plant them at the same angle in which you dragged them
- Push yourself off from the poles to add pressure to each pole plant
Just like cross-country skiing, it may take some time to get into the rhythm of Nordic walking. However, soon enough you’ll be walking in stride.
You can also check out this guide to learn more about how to use trekking poles correctly.
The Top Benefits of Walking Poles
Now that we know a bit about walking poles and Nordic walking, let’s dive into the top benefits of walking poles.
1. Strengthen Your Core
Pretty much everyone wishes their stomach was flatter and more toned. Yet, many people soon get bored of doing crunch after crunch at the gym.
If you’re looking for an alternative ab workout, trekking with walking poles is a great option.
Each time you push off from the pole, your abs contract. This means that every mile you walk, you’re doing approximately 1000 sit-ups!
2. Improve Balance, Stability, and Posture
Each year, one in four Americans over the age of 65 falls. And, over 3 million elderly people are treated in the emergency room each year because of a fall.
One of the best ways to prevent falling is to improve your balance and stability, which walking poles can help you do.
Walking poles can also help you improve your posture, as in order to correctly use the poles, you need to be standing up straight. Considering that poor posture can cause back pain, neck pain, headaches, poor sleep, and poor digestion, this benefit cannot be underestimated.
3. Gentle On the Joints
The older you get, the more you need to focus on choosing exercises that are easy on the joints.
While walking or running on a treadmill is great exercise, it can be very hard on your joints. Luckily, with walking poles, you don’t need to give up your love of walking.
Walking poles offload weight from your knees, hips, and upper body, which means you can walk faster and with less pain.
4. Scorch Calories Quickly
If you’re looking for a calorie-scorching workout, Nordic walking is your answer.
In fact, you can burn up to 30 percent more calories with walking poles than you would with regular walking, and in total, you can burn over 500 calories per hour.
This calorie burn rivals that of running, except it doesn’t cause any strain on your joints.
5. Tone Your Entire Body
There aren’t too many exercises out there that offer a full-body workout, but Nordic walking is one of them.
Each time you push the poles into the ground, you engage your abs, shoulders, and arms. And, the basic motion of walking is also a great workout for toning your legs.
Plus, not only does Nordic walking help tone your entire body, but it also provides you with an intense aerobic workout.
This means you can burn fat at the same time you’re building muscle.
6. Gets You Outdoors
While going to the gym is great, nothing beats boosting your endorphins in good ol’ Mother Nature.
You can hit the local hiking trails, find a lake to stroll around, or even just take a walk through your neighborhood with your walking poles.
Plus, because the poles are so compact and light, you can take them pretty much anywhere with you.
7. Enjoy a Social Activity
Exercise becomes a lot more fun when you can do it with others.
With walking poles, it’s easy to walk in stride with someone else. Or, you can walk while a friend or family member runs, rollerblades or bikes.
If you have a dog that can be off-leash, then you can also take them with you on your walking adventure.
Recommended Read: Full Mont Blanc Trekking Guide
Are You Ready to Try Walking Poles?
As you can see, walking poles offer a lot of different benefits. Now all you need to do is find the right pair for you and start walking!
Also, if you liked this post, be sure to check back in for more health-related tips and tricks.