Weight Loss System - European Pole Walking
by Donovan Baldwin

I'm not one to latch onto fads. I tend to favor tried and true methods, such as walking, but I am always interested in new exercise techniques that might enhance the results. I am even more interested in new approaches that may help those with physical problems enter mainstream physical fitness more easily. So, when my wife showed me an article in a magazine about what they called, "pole walking", I did a little digging. Here's what I found out.

This is what is often called "Nordic walking". It is, put as simply as possible, the technique of walking with what resembles a pair of ski poles. As with skiing, the walker alternately moves the poles as he or she walks. Obviously, there is a "best" technique, but it's a little complicated to describe here. However, the basic method is first to grip each pole firmly but not tensely. Then, keeping the arms straight, swing your arms to approximately waist height and holding the poles diagonally behind you, help propel yourself forward alternating your right and left poles as you walk.

What has developed as an activity in its own right, Nordic walking was originally a means by which Finnish skiers could maintain fitness and ability during the off-season. Just as they skied on snow, they would walk on land, helping to propel themselves with poles. Obviously, these used in the sport are NOT ski poles. They are specially made and can cost anywhere from about $40 to over $200 per pair. You can determine optimum pole length by multiplying your height in inches by .72. The poles are adjustable.

So, what are the results of proper pole walking?

Well, among many research groups and facilities, the Cooper Institute in Dallas, tested the pole walking technique. Here are a few things they and others found out about pole walking.

1. Using the poles encourages the use of more muscles in the walking process, thus allowing you to burn fat more effectively.

2. The poles help take pressure off of joints, feet, back, etc. Once accustomed to the process, people report feeling better walking with them than without them.

3. Studies have shown that people walking with poles tend to lose more weight more rapidly than those simply walking. In fact, some studies indicate that pole walking may burn as much as 50% more calories than simply walking for exercise or weight loss.

Nordic walking has been popular in Europe for some time, and there actually is an organization dedicated to the activity - the International Nordic Walking Association. You can find their website at inwa.nordicwalking.com/.

Will pole walking work for you? Well, YOU won't know until you try it, but if it was good enough for Olympic level athletes, it's good enough for me. I guess I'll be getting a pair of poles and trying it out.

Donovan Baldwin is a freelance writer living in Copperas Cove, Texas. He is a University of West Florida alumnus, a member of Mensa and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health, and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, weightlifting, weight loss, the environment, global warming, happiness, self improvement, life and the arts. He has a collection of articles on health, fitness, diet, and weight loss at http://nodiet4me.com/articledirectory/.
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