What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic Walking is an intensification of normal walking using two poles. The specific technique of Nordic Walking is representative to that of the normal gait cycle which is a different to just hiking with poles. The technique was first developed in Finland by the cross country ski team to keep fit over the summer months. Since then Nordic Walking  has been one of the fastest growing fitness activities, with the correct utilisation of the poles the benefits include:

  • Total body work out – incorporating legs, arms and trunk
  • 40% Increased cardiac output
  • Improved posture
  • Increased coordination
  • Decreased perceived exertion

Why is Nordic Walking different to hiking or walking with poles?

Nordic Walking has a very specific technique and style which is an intensification of normal walking. Whereas just walking with poles can feel clumsy or unsupported, done correctly Nordic Walking can bring about many benefits.

Nordic WalkingHiking with Poles
Placement of the polesStay in contact with the groundCome off the ground
Arm swingStay at 45 degree angle behind
you and behind your feet
(out of the way)
In front of you
– easy to trip over
TrunkRotates to assist fluid movementStays fixed and still


What are the benefits of Nordic Walking if I have a neurological condition?

  • Strengthens the muscles and neurological sequences that support normal walking
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Decreases health risk factors
  • Assists with weight management
  • Helps to protect brain health
  • Decreases perceived exertion
  • Decreased strain on joints
  • Increases stability and balance
  • Improves your confidence
  • Improves posture
  • Increases brain activity
  • Large amplitude movements
  • Increases walking speed and distance


How do I learn to Nordic Walk?

Due to the specialisation of the technique you are highly recommended to learn in person with a qualified International Nordic Walking Association instructor. Please go through the INWA website to find an instructor near you.

If you know of an instructor who is unsure of how to maximize the potential of Nordic Walking for your neurological condition please recommend them to complete the online eLearning Nordic Walking instructor modules for different neurological conditions.

Watch this space for some handy tips, tricks and exercises for Nordic Walking.

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