Walking with fitness walking poles -- Nordic walking -- can boost your walking workout and help you get your heart rate into the moderate-intensity activity zone. A study from Finland, where the sport was popularized, found it had benefits for middle-aged men who were overweight or obese. They tested the men for signs of metabolic syndrome and impaired glucose metabolism. They then assigned them to a group who engaged in Nordic walking for 12 weeks, resistance training, or a non-exercising control group.
The Nordic walking group had decreases in leptin and serum chemerin, indicating improved metabolism and decreased signs of metabolic syndrome. They also had better improvements in body fat percentage, fatty liver index (FLI), and total and LDL cholesterol concentrations than the resistance training group or the control group.
Winter is a great time to get started with Nordic walking. You are less likely to feel self-conscious using poles, having the excuse that they might help with stability. To get the best workout, you should study how to use the poles properly. Good poling technique will help open up your chest and achieve good walking posture. But the best health and weight loss benefits of the poles are that you will get a higher heart rate without walking faster or feeling more exertion. You are able to get into the fat-burning zone at your walking speed.
How to Start Nordic Walking
Venojärvi M, Wasenius N, Manderoos S, Heinonen OJ, Hernelahti M, Lindholm H, Surakka J, Lindström J, Aunola S, Atalay M, Eriksson JG. "Nordic walking decreased circulating chemerin and leptin concentrations in middle-aged men with impaired glucose regulation." Annals of Medicine 2012 Oct 30. (doi: 10.3109/07853890.2012.727020) [Epub ahead of print]