Nordic Walking | A Guide To The Fitness Activity From Finland - Outdoors Magic

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Nordic Walking | A Guide To The Fitness Activity From Finland

The benefits, the basics and the gear you need for Nordic walking. Prepare to drop your preconceptions...

An activity that’s simple, affordable and highly effective? It almost sounds too good to be true. But that’s the reality with Nordic walking. If you’re looking to improve your fitness and even your mental health, you’d be wise to pick up some poles and start striding. 

We’d hazard a guess that you’ve already got a few preconceptions about Nordic walking. If you do, we’re sorry to tell you this, but you’ve probably got the wrong end of the stick. 

First up: the ‘it’s just for old people’ thing. OK, there’s truth in the fact that a lot of older people are Nordic walkers and it’s certainly a great activity for those who have troublesome joints, but the benefits of it certainly aren’t limited to the over 70s… 

CimAlp have introduced a nordic walking collection to their line in response to the rapidly growing interest in the activity. Photo: CimAlp

The Benefits of Nordic Walking

Another common misconception is that Nordic walking is just walking with poles but there’s actually far more to it than that. Normal walking only engages 50% of your muscles after all, whereas the Nordic style brings up to 90% into the equation. You’re also burning around 20% more calories when you Nordic walk, so it’s a great exercise for anyone looking to lose weight. 

“Nordic walking is actually a powerful exercise regime that is like being on a cross trainer in the gym,” says Gill Stewart who’s the director of Nordic Walking UK. “It’s a whole body workout and it’s very cardiovascular – it was, after all, derived from the winter training regime of super fit cross country skiers.”

Don’t forget that there’s the mental wellbeing side of things as well. Any exercise is good for mental health and being outdoors in nature adds another level of mood boosting benefits, but Nordic walking can actually enhance those benefits even further. “The “rhythmical action of Nordic walking can add another level of mood boosting benefits,” explains Gill, “especially when you learn to coordinate breathing exercises with steps, creating a relaxing workout with plenty of fresh air.”

The Basics Of Nordic Walking

The technique, as Gill puts it, is “not simply tapping the poles” – it’s a method that’s best learned in stages with the help of an expert who can ensure you are engaging the right muscles. 

The most important thing is that your upper body is engaged. To do this, the poles aren’t planted in front of you with each step (as they would be by someone who is using poles for trekking), but instead they’re trailed behind at a 45 degree angle, with each one planted in correspondence with your stride and used to propel you forward. Your shoulders should be relaxed and down and your arms should be kept close to your body, straightening as they trail behind you. Your wrists should be relaxed and should never come above the waist.

Gear You Need For Nordic Walking

Aside from poles, Nordic walking doesn’t require any specific gear – that’s one of the beauties of it. However, if you plan on building Nordic walking into your weekly or even daily routine to regularly reap the rewards it brings then you’ll need gear that can keep you out rain or shine – and all throughout the year. CimAlp are one of just a few brands that make gear specifically designed for the demands of Nordic walking. In other words, they make protective gear for active use. Their collection includes breathable rain jackets, insulating but fast wicking base layers, lightweight insulation and plenty more. 

Dive into their collection:


Case Study

Giles Dean, Outdoors Magic staff 

“I tore a meniscus earlier last year and got into Nordic walking  as a way of keeping fit and rehabilitating the injury. I chose the activity as it is super low impact, so I could go out for a decent session without aggravating the injury. It provided me with a way of getting out there while I couldn’t do the things I would normally be doing; skiing, trail running and Argentine tango.

“I found it gave me a great sense of freedom, allowing me access to the great outdoors and motivating me to get out more than I otherwise would. Since making a full recovery I’ve continued Nordic walking off-road and I find that it really helps me keep my speed up, meaning that I can cover more ground over the course of a day.”

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