Your Guide To All The Benefits Of Nordic Walking

Going for a walk every day can have many health benefits, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day. In fact, walking can help manage health conditions like heart disease and chronic stress, and can improve muscle endurance and energy, per Mayo Clinic. Perhaps you love taking a walk outdoors, which brings added benefits. Being out in nature with fresh air, the birds, and the beautiful sights to see can help with a range of issues like improving your mood and promoting healthy blood pressure (via Canterbury Court).

If you like going for a nature stroll to get some light exercise in, you might love the concept of Nordic walking. Nordic walking helps you take your walks up a notch because it adds more intensity to the exercise. It consists of using two walking sticks or poles in each hand with rubber tips at the bottom that stick into the ground as you go. "The basic concept is you add upper body activity in the context of using Nordic poles, or walking poles, to assist with moving forward when you're walking," director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program for Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Aaron Baggish tells Today. The process of using the walking poles on your walk is similar to how hikers use theirs. Nordic walking adds more endurance for more health benefits during your walk.

Add arm strength

Nordic walking consists of using walking poles, which helps to strengthen your arms while you walk. Trainer Maddie Casadonte tells Bustle that the movement of the arms during a Nordic walk "initiates power from the shoulders, triceps, and biceps for a great arm workout." In fact, it engages your arm muscles more than a regular walk would. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Exercise and Rehabilitation, Nordic walking helps improve shoulder strength and grip.

Tone your muscles overall

As opposed to a regular walk, Nordic walking activates your muscles 80 to 90% more than regular walking, per Harvard Medical School. Essentially, it better distributes the workout throughout your body, especially into your upper torso and arms, creating more of a full body workout. Many health professionals recommend Nordic walking to improve muscle and bone strength (via Bristol Nordic Walking). The use of the walking poles helps create that extra weight and resistance to do so. As it strengthens them, it also helps you use those muscles more effectively.

Improve coordination and balance

Because Nordic walking requires walking poles, this can help improve and support your coordination. According to Science Alert, this reduces your risk of falling because it can help improve your balance. A 2009 study published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation found that lower body endurance and balance significantly improved from Nordic walking techniques. Additionally, Nordic walking also engages your core strength in both your abdomen and your back, which then contributes to better posture and an improved ability to move (via The Conversation).

Boost your heart health

Nordic walking takes a little more strength to accomplish than regular walking. Therefore, it increases your heart rate, especially as you walk faster and use more of your muscles. In turn, this is extremely beneficial for your heart health and your lungs. According to Bristol Nordic Walking, this form of exercise can help reduce your risk of heart disease, lower the threat of type 2 diabetes, and promote clearer arteries. As it gets your heart pumping, it can also boost blood circulation.

"The bottom line is that all of the risk factors that drive heart disease or more specifically coronary disease — things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes — all of these are improved by physical activity," director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program for Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Aaron Baggish tells Today.

Improve your mental wellbeing

Nordic walking is a great way to boost your mood and mental wellbeing, especially as an outdoor activity. In fact, it has been proven to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. A 2015 study published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science also found significant improvement in skeletal muscle mass and quality of sleep. "Nordic walking can also be beneficial to mental health, because it is a great group activity and very sociable," Jenny Davies from British Nordic Walking tells Stylist. Generally, spending time outdoors or partaking in exercise can greatly improve your mental health, all of which Nordic walking includes.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.