Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk — which can help you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout. This activity is sometimes called Nordic walking.
Most walking poles have rubber tips that grab the pavement and wrist straps that secure the poles to your arms. With one walking pole in each hand, you grip the handles and push off with each stride. Sturdier walking poles designed for hiking are known as hiking or trekking poles.
Consider the benefits of walking poles:
- The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.
- Walking poles improve balance and stability.
- Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
- Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.
Walking poles in various fixed or adjustable lengths are available online and in many sporting goods stores.
Feb. 18, 2015
- Tschentscher M, et al. Health benefits of Nordic walking: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;44:76.
- Mannerkorpi K, et al. Does moderate-to-high intensity Nordic walking improve functional capacity and pain in fibromyalgia? A prospective randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Research and Therapy. 2010;12:R189.
- Shim J-M, et al. Comparison of the effects of walking with and without Nordic pole on upper extremity and lower extremity muscle activation. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2013;25:1553.
- Takeshima N, et al. Effects of Nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2013;12:422.