Two recent studies have shown walking and trekking poles to be effective for reducing the exertion felt while increasing the calories burned by hikers and walkers.
The poles are used as a pair - one in each hand. By using the poles with each step, the walker takes strain off of the lower legs while burning more calories by using the upper body. The poles add stability on rocky or uneven trails as well as for wobbly walkers in any terrain.
The Cooper Institute of Dallas, Texas assessed the NordicWalking method of using the poles for fitness walking. They found an increase in calories burned and oxygen used by 20% compared with regular walking at the same pace. The study was published in early 2001.
A study with hikers was published in the American College of Sports Medicine journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. The study conducted at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst showed that using poles lets hikers lengthen their strides, put less strain on their knees, and generally feel more comfortable. The hikers studied did not expend less energy, but the increase in stability made long treks easier.
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