What is Nordic Walking and Is It Better than HIIT?

What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking is a fitness trend that has been growing over the last few years, and to me there is no mystery why. Even if you don’t know it by name, you’ve likely seen it and might have even wondered about it. While some just like to do it, others are picking it up because it offers a surprising muscle workout and calorie burn.

What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking involves a walk style that uses poles somewhat comparable to ski poles to gently push yourself along.  It essentially mimics many of the motions of cross-country skiing. In fact, it was originally developed as a kind of summer training strategy for people who wanted to keep up their muscle strength throughout the cross-country skiing off-season.

That said, it is such a simple and straightforward way of exercising that it has started taking off throughout North America as a year-round workout. Even better is that it brings regular walking up a few notches in terms of the working it provides, without requiring any extra time or distance.

Benefits You Can Expect

People might look calm with fluid, easy-looking movements when you see them Nordic walking along your favorite hiking trail. That said, they’re actually getting a far better workout than you are as you stride along, even if you’re going the same pace.

By adding the poles, you engage your upper body, using them consistently along your sidewalk or trail. Instead of using about half of your body’s muscles, you’re engaging closer to 80 percent or 90 percent of them. This, as you can imagine, substantially hikes your calorie burn and gives you much more of a whole-body workout.

Nordic Walking Research is Still Early

I’d love to tell you precisely how much more beneficial Nordic walking is when compared to heading out without the poles, but research is still in its early days. Estimates currently range between an increase of 18 to 67 percent in calorie burning.  That said, even if it’s at the absolute lowest end of that range, an 18 percent boost in calorie burning would still be a substantial increase, and definitely one worth going for.

A Good Workout at Any Fitness Level

Aside from the fact that a good solid Nordic walking session can give you a better calorie burn that some HIIT workouts is that I can recommend this exercise to just about anyone.  As long as you can get your hands on a set of poles, you’ve got all you need, no matter your fitness level. I’ve found that it’s also popular with my clients at any age, from guys in their twenties to seniors. In fact, one of my clients – a man in his seventies – recently told me that it helped him to strengthen his entire body while reducing his concerns about falling. The poles – keep in mind these are Nordic walking poles, not trekking or hiking poles worn with loops loose around the wrists – not only add to the workout, but they add two more contact points on the ground for getter stability.

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