Merano Nordic Walkers

Merano Nordic Walkers
Fitness Tips
Image by Lynne Hand
Taking their sticks for a walk.

Nordic walking is defined as fitness walking with specially designed poles. It evolved from an off-season ski-training activity known as ski walking, hill bounding or ski striding to become a way of exercising year-round. Ski walking and hill bounding with poles has been practised for decades as dry land training for competitive cross-country skiing. Ski coaches saw the success of world-class cross-country skiers who used ski poles in the summer for ski walking and hill bounding, and it became a staple of off-season Nordic ski training. Hikers with knee pain discovered they could walk more powerfully with a pair of trekking poles, often eliminate or reduce hip, knee, and foot pain, and backpackers found relief from painful backs when using poles.

The first specially designed fitness walking poles with optional rubber tips (for hard surfaces, such as pavement) were designed by Tom Rutlin, and his strapless Exerstrider poles were introduced in the U.S. in 1988.

In 1997, Finnish ski pole manufacturer Exel, working with Marko Kantaneva, introduced the trademarked Nordic Walker poles. ‘Nordic walking’; became the accepted term for fitness walking with specially designed poles. Although fitness walking with poles has been relatively slow to be embraced in North America, the Nordic skiing savvy Northern Europeans quickly embraced this dry land hybrid of two of their favourite fitness activities, Nordic skiing and walking, and a little more than a decade after its introduction in Europe, an estimated 8-10 million people (mostly in Northern Europe) have taken up fitness walking with specially designed poles as a regular form of exercise.

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