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What the Hell is Nordic Walking?


Many years ago I first saw Patrick Burtscher and his Nordic Academy team, Nordic Walking around FILEX in Sydney. To my untrained eye, it seemed to be simply walking with purpose, with a couple of sticks. At the time I thought it a bit odd – in an expo filled with every conceivable fitness apparatus, here was a group selling… well… walking… with sticks.

Fast forward almost 10 years and, as Nordic Walking continues to grow in popularity, I’ve made it my business to understand why it has been such a success.

On their own admission it’s an activity that looks a little unusual to begin with. On closer inspection though, it reveals itself to be a universally applicable training tool. One that has been heartily embraced by many health and fitness professionals all over Australia.

To better understand the origins of Nordic Walking, let’s look at a bit of history.

xcountry skiersIn European countries where cross-country skiing is big part of their winter, many people would take to the mountains in the summer months, with ski poles, to maintain their sport specific fitness. For those unfamiliar with cross country skiing, the sport incorporates long sliding strides with the assistance of poles. Training at altitude aside, champion XC Skiers are some of the fittest people on the planet!

With this off-season training activity growing in popularity, in 1997 a Finnish sports institute and ski pole company designed poles and a refined technique to ensure maximum health and fitness benefits for participants. It’s these Finnish beginnings, that led to the term ‘Nordic Walking’.

What makes Nordic Walking so special?

In short, it’s highly effective, low impact, has a low barrier to entry, it’s enjoyable, can be done anywhere and is conducive to long term participation.

Consider the following benefits (as determined by European and American studies):

  • Activates 90% of the body’s muscles
  • Burns up to 46% more calories compared to regular walking without poles
  • Provides up to 25 % greater cardiovascular workout than regular walking
  • Low load and impact on the joints of the lower body
  • Strengthens the upper back, shoulders and arms
  • Improves the lateral mobility of the spine
  • Improves proves core stability
  • Promotes an upright and balanced walking posture
  • Improves co-ordination and balance

This sort of activity is especially relevant if you’re dealing with people suffering from exercise-limiting health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, and Multiple Sclerosis, Nordic Walking ticks a lot of boxes.

The Nordic Academy training course is recognised by most major industry bodies

Nordic Walking for Fitness - Nordic AcademyNordic Walking offer a 1.5 day course, that runs in all states (see calendar for details) and is accredited with Fitness Australia, Physical Activity Australia, ESSA (Exercise and Sport Science Australia), APMA (Australian Pilates Method Association) and ALMA (Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association).

So there it is, if you’re looking for a professional development opportunity to round off your existing knowledge, give Patrick a call on 1300 791 740. More information is also available on their web site:


Picture 15
Dennis Hosking,
Managing Director,

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