Why Your Doctor Wants You to Nordic Walk


Gym closed? Unsure about diving into your local swimming pool?

There’s no better time than now to try Nordic walking (also known as urban poling and pole walking). Scores of research shows that adding poles to standard walking can have a profound effect on your overall health. The rhythmic swinging of the poles activates your arms and core muscles turning a humdrum stroll into a full-body workout.

“I use my walking poles every day,” says Dr. Jack Taunton, a Vancouver sports medicine physician and former national-ranked marathon runner. He cites a long list of Nordic walking benefits, including improved upper body strength and balance. “And the poles increase your aerobic output by 30 percent as you power yourself forward with them,” he adds.

Canadian walking pole company Urban Poling Inc. is experiencing a surge in online sales as people continue to look for alternatives to exercising at fitness clubs, recreation centres and pools during these COVID-19 times.

“Nordic walking is a fun and safe exercise choice that you can do on your own or socially distanced with a friend or two,” says co-director Mandy Shintani, whose 15-year-old company sells walking poles and accessories in Canada, Australia, the U.K., Ireland and the United States.

The company and its certified instructors encourage customers to “plant, push and propel,” and to understand the difference between Nordic walking as an exercise activity and walking with hiking poles.

“Walking with hiking poles requires no special technique,” says Shintani. “Alternatively, Nordic walking involves a slightly longer stride, arms that swing from the shoulders instead of the elbows, and a strong push back on the base of the handles. It activates the upper body and core, muscles that are usually relaxed during regular walking. It’s also quite easy to learn.”

Curious to learn more? Here are 8 reasons to pick up a pair of poles:

1. Enjoy your own company
Nordic walking is the perfect solo activity. Choose neighbourhood sidewalks, or explore local hiking trails. No need for a partner or to organize a team.

2. Social distancing is easy
Nordic walking with friends or at an instructor-led class adds an uplifting and energizing social component. Physical distancing happens easily when walking single file because the swinging poles naturally keep people apart.

3. Breathe some fresh air
According to public health officials, exercising outdoors is an excellent way to avoid both interacting with other people and breathing in re-circulated air. It also supports your mental, emotional, and physical health needs.

4. Soak up some Vitamin N
Moving in nature, amongst trees, flowers and peaceful surroundings helps reduce anger and depression and boosts your mood. And you reap these rewards at any exercise intensity level.

5. It’s easy to learn
Learn the Nordic walking basics online, and get moving successfully the first day with your poles. Urban Poling offers online how-to videos, links to virtual classes and online getting-started articles. Certified Urban Poling instructors offer one-on-one live training across the country.

6. Your doctor will approve
Medical professionals know that walking is powerful medicine and also that adding poles increases its value. Physiotherapists love that the poles let you offload weight from your lower body joints, strengthen your upper body, and help with balance.

7. The price is right
Get the right poles to get the full benefits. Urban Poling’s award-winning Nordic walking poles and ACTIVATOR poles (for people with balance and stability issues) will last you a lifetime and cost just $100-$120. Add a sturdy pair of shoes and comfortable clothes, and you’re ready to move.

8. Do it anywhere, anytime
Keep your poles by your front door, at your desk, or in your trunk. Just grab them and go whenever you need an energy boost.

For information on purchasing Urban Poling poles and products, including The Urban Poling Ultimate Guide to Nordic Walking, and to view video of Nordic walking in action, CLICK HERE.