What Is Nordic Walking And Other Questions?

• What Is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking is described as enhanced walking or as we like to think of it, four wheel drive for walking. It’s like having two engines to power your walk – your legs combined with your upper body via your shoulders and arms.

Nordic walking poles propel you forward helping you walk further, faster, and with greater efficiency.

Nordic walking origins begin in Finland in the 1930’s when competitive cross-country skiers wanted an activity to keep them race fit during the summer months.

By the 1990’s it was introduced into Finnish schools where it started to spread more widely to be one of the fastest grow outdoor activities enjoyed by people of all ages.

Nordic walking has spread all across europe, North America and the rest of the world.

The International Nordic Walking Federation (INWA) formed in 2000 as the governing body leading research, education and the promotion of nordic walking around the world.

British Nordic Walking (BNW) formed in 2008 as the national body representing INWA in this country.

• What's so good about nordic walking?

Nordic walking is an amazing whole body fitness activity. People also nordic walk as a rehabilitation activity to boost cardio-pulmonary function, improve posture and regain normal walking patterns, strengthen almost every muscle throughout the body, and as a complimentary cross-training activity.

Athletes of all disciplines now use nordic walking to keep fit while recovering from injury and in their off season. Nordic walking has been found to be beneficial for people living with Parkinson’s disease and aiding recovery from breast cancer surgery.

Nordic Walking with good technique can burn between 20% and 46% more calories than ordinary walking at the same pace and yet, people report that it doesn’t feel like they are exerting any more energy.

• Do I really need to learn how to nordic walk?


To learn how to nordic walk you will need some initial instruction to get you going. To get the most from your nordic walking takes some consistent practise and some coaching too.

As accredited INWA instructors we can offer you the very best teaching programme to get you started on your way to nordic walking mastery.

By joining one of our guided walks you’ll gain the benefits of our coaching to support you to make good progress without overdoing things or causing an injury.

• I have trekking poles, can I use them for nordic walking?

Alas not.

Nordic walking poles differ from trekking poles in some important ways.

Nordic walking poles have a glove type strap, the glove is your power-point, it’s what propels you forward. The glove has a quick release system that detaches the whole glove from the pole in one quick motion.

When nordic walking we hold our nordic walking poles with the lightest of loose grips on the handle of the pole. The pole slants backward at a 45 degree angle with the tips behind us.

As we nordic walk we ensure the pole tips ‘dig’ into the ground, or grip the ground with specially designed ‘paws’. We can push back with our hand in the glove to propel ourselves forward as we do so.

Nordic walking poles are much lighter than trekking poles.

Trekking poles have a simple loop strap to stop you losing your pole. When walking one does not actively use the strap to drive forward. The strap is not designed to be detached from the handle easily.

When walking with trekking poles you hold them firmly in your hands out in front, vertically, to aid stability with two extra points of contact with the ground.

Trekking poles are great by the way, it’s just that we should not confuse them with nordic walking poles as some people do.

• I'm not very fit, can I enjoy nordic walking?

Phil Says:
As someone living with a disability nordic walking has opened up the world to me. It has the potential to enable me to walk further and cover more ground than if I tried to do so without nordic walking poles.

In all honesty I was rather sceptical when Helen suggested I give it a go, I did though, and it just lit up so many light bulbs in my head. As some instructors say, ‘nordic walking really is enhanced walking’.

I think of it as four wheel drive for walking – it has improved my fitness, helped my posture, supports my balance on uneven ground, and importantly, takes pressure off my aching hips, knees and ankles.”

Helen and I pitch our instruction and our guided walks at a level to meet your needs. If you’re keen to get out more and enjoy some easy leisure walks we’ve got you covered.

If you’re keen to get fit, build upon your nordic walking technique, and venture further we have you covered too.

Whatever kind of walk you enjoy we aim to offer something for everybody.

• What do I need to get started?

Join us for a Learn To Nordic Walk Workshop and we’ll provide you with nordic walking poles to use. If you’re keen to get going afterwards we can advise you where to buy your own nordic walking poles.

If you already have your own nordic walking poles please do bring them with you.

For guided walks you can bring your own nordic walking poles or we can lend you set of poles for a small fee.

Simply wear suitable outdoor clothing and trail type outdoor shoes on the day. Not sure what to wear, get in touch, we’re here to help.

Great! You’re good to go.

• Do you go out when it's raining?

Yes we do.

We avoid very bad weather such as heavy rain, strong winds, and especially thunder and lightning.

Do check the weather forecast on the day of your nordic walking course or guided walk. Bring the right clothing and there’s no reason why we can’t have a great time.

• How many people do you have on your courses and walks?

For our instruction courses we like to keep things intimate so that you can enjoy some personal attention and top tips just for you. We keep the group to no more than eight people.

For our guided walks we like to keep numbers in the group to a maximum of 12 people. We’re mindful we share our paths and greenspaces with other people too.

Part of our briefing before a guided walk includes being courteous to others and abiding by the Countryside Code.

• Can I bring my dog to your courses or on your walks?

Alas no.

Our insurance does not cover us for participants bringing their dog or dogs when teaching or coaching nordic walking, nor for our guided nordic walks.

We can offer you advice about nordic walking with your dog or dogs and point you in the direction of other resources to help with you enjoy nordic walking with your dog or dogs.

International Nordic Walking Federation Logo
British Nordic Walking Logo

INWA British Nordic Walking qualified instructors.

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