In recent years, you have probably come across people walking with poles on hiking trails, roadsides or even in the city. We're willing to bet that many thoughts and preconceptions have been running through your mind about the nature of this activity and the public involved. It's time to put an end to this because, contrary to what its name might suggest, Nordic walking is indeed a sport.
And the benefits of Nordic walking are numerous. The good news is that you don't have to live in the far north to do it! All you need is a pair of poles, a little motivation, and between 1.5 and 2 hours in front of
But before we go and choose the right poles for you, let's talk a little about its origins and history. Nordic Walking, also called Nordic Walking or Sauvakävely, is a sport that
comes from Finland. Although the activity was born as such in the 90s, the beginnings date back to the beginning of the 20th century
Originally, Finnish cross-country skiers were looking for a way to train during the summer season when they were without snow and skiing. They came up with the idea of walking with poles, using them in the same way as when skiing, i.e. planting them at the back and simulating sliding.
The practice was then democratised during the 20th century. It spread throughout the world in the 1990s. In France, the sport has been regulated by the French Athletics Federation since 2009. It is even the subject of sporting competitions such as the Nordic Walking Tour which was launched in 2014.
Today, Nordic walking has millions of followers all over the world. Rain, shine or snow, whether you live by the sea, in the city, in the mountains or in the countryside, it is an all-round sport and you will be surprised to discover all the benefits of Nordic walking!
Nordic walking consists of walking outdoors (although it can be done indoors) with poles that are specific to the discipline. It combines both endurance work and muscle strengthening.
Nordic walking is gentler than jogging and more dynamic than hiking, and can be done alone or in a group. The advantage of Nordic walking is that it can be practiced at any age and regardless of physical condition.
Nordic walking is also excellent training for other sports such as skiing or hiking. It is also a good way of getting into sports gently. It is also a very good option for getting back into good physical condition.
In general, a Nordic walking session is carried out as follows:
- 10-minute warm-up for muscles and joints
- Between 1h and 1h30 of Nordic walking, which may include exercises to strengthen muscles
- 10 to 15 minutes of recovery and stretching
The benefits of Nordic walking on the body and mind are numerous.
You can of course do this physical activity in the city, but the benefits will be somewhat lessened by the pollution.
Like outdoor sports, Nordic walking, when practised in nature, has a dimension of discovery and escape. It allows you to explore many playgrounds and combines the advantages of a
meditation session with those of a sports session. We breathe deeply and admire the landscapes that are offered to us, we enjoy the present moment. It is an excellent way to escape alone but it is also a factor of social bonding when you decide to practice Nordic walking with others.
In addition to the benefits to the mind with its escapist dimension, the physical and health benefits are numerous.
You walk, but it's the whole body that works: the legs of course, but also the abdominal muscles, the arms, the pectoral muscles and the neck.
By using the whole body, all the muscle chains of the upper and lower parts are mobilised. As a result, the energy expenditure is greater than that of traditional walking. If Nordic walking is practised regularly and the sessions are long, it also allows a reduction in the body mass index as well as weight loss.
The fact that this accelerated walk is practised with poles helps to work on the synchronisation and coordination of movements. It also improves posture and balance. Unlike classical hiking, the poles are not planted vertically but are pointed at the back of the body to propel it forward, exactly like cross-country skiing.
And even if the pace is slower than jogging, the cardiovascular work is almost equivalent because the work of the arms with the poles requires a lot of oxygen (60% more oxygen required for Nordic walking).
Another important advantage is that, unlike jogging, there is no impact on the joints. On the other hand, the vibrations help to strengthen the bones! Thanks to the walking and the repetition of the gesture of planting the sticks, Nordic walking is therefore an excellent remedy against osteoporosis due to inactivity and problems affecting the joints (arthritis and arthrosis).
In short, Nordic walking has everything! Get your poles.