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.
Mar. 15, 2012
- Hansen EA, et al. Energy expenditure and comfort during Nordic walking with different pole lengths. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2009;23:1187.
- Saunders MJ, et al. Trekking poles increase physiological responses to hiking without increased perceived exertion. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2008;22:1468.
- Schiffer T, et al. Energy cost and pole forces during Nordic walking under different surface conditions. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2009;41:663.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 17, 2012.