A riff on cross-country skiing, nordic walking might just be the next big fitness trend. This European workout mirrors the popularity of brunch in the United States, says Aaron Baggish, MD, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hosptial. “You go to the train station on Saturdays and there are droves of people over 70 waiting to go up to the mountains to walk with Nordic poles,” he tells Harvard Health. (I hope you’re just as entertained by the image of folks of all ages standing around with walking poles as I am.) So grab your poles and get moving to engage 80 to 90 percent of your muscles.
The poles are not just props; they transform walking into a workout that’s not just for the lower body. “When you walk without poles, you activate muscles below the waist,” says Dr. Baggish. “When you add Nordic poles, you activate all of the muscles of the upper body as well.” The doctor adds that nordic walking has been found to increase “good” HDL cholesterol, as well as cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and endurance.
If you’re ready to pole-up and try the workout for yourself, you can snag a set of poles on Amazon for $37. Once you’ve given your pair a test run around the safe space of your back yard, go forth. Nordic walk that trail, city park, beach, desert—you name it.
This writer’s self-care routine includes a walking commute:
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