What is nordic walking ?

Have you heard of Nordic walking and want to find out more about this increasingly popular sport ? Virgile Van-Rampelbergh, Nordic walking coach for the French Athletics Federation tells you everything about this comprehensive and dynamic sport, which has so many benefits for body and mind !


Nordic walking is an outdoor sport practised for leisure. But be warned, Nordic walking does not involve merely putting one foot in front of the other: it is practised using poles specially designed for this sport

The poles for Nordic walking are designed to propel you forwards more quickly and use all the muscle groups. Unlike hiking, the poles are not held vertically in front of the body but oriented backwards, like in cross-country skiing. 

Thanks to these special poles, movement is fast and the Nordic walker's pace is athletic. 

Newfeel joined forces with the two-time Nordic walking world champion Olivier Capelli to answer this question: what is Nordic walking?


Nordic walking is an endurance sport and is an excellent choice for those wanting to get in shape and stay that way. It is great for both men and women, for sports enthusiasts as well as more sedentary types who want to improve their health and take up sport. 

Whatever your age, physical fitness and your state of health, Nordic walking can be adapted to your needs. Each individual can start Nordic walking at his or her own pace, according to their own goals and physical abilities. 

It is possible to join clubs, which offer several types of Nordic walking trails, or to practise alone. The most important thing is to be properly equipped and to master the basic principles of Nordic walking. 


Mountaineering and cross-country skiing enthusiasts have been practising a kind of Nordic walking in Europe for several decades. They also make the most of the summer weather to continue their training by walking using their poles. 

Nordic walking as it is practised today was developed in the late 90's. In 1994 Marko Kantaneva, a Finnish sports instructor, published a walking method using poles inspired by cross-country skiing. He completed it with a series of exercises designed to train and improve various physical abilities. 

During the 2000's, various French sporting figures became involved in the development of Nordic walking. Since 2009, this sport is regulated by the French Athletics Federation. 

Would you like to give it a try ? Discover more about the benefits of Nordic walking in this article.


All physical activity, practised regularly, brings positive benefits for your health and physical fitness. But all sports are different, and so are their health benefits. Nordic walking is good for the body, heart and mind !