What is Nordic walking?

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!


Definition of Nordic walking

Nordic walking is an outdoor sport that is usually practised for leisure. But be warned, Nordic walking does not involve merely putting one foot in front of the other: you also use walking poles specially designed for the sport.

In Nordic walking, the poles allow you to propel yourself forward faster in a movement that exercises your whole body. The poles for Nordic walking are designed to propel you forwards more quickly and use all the muscle groups. Unlike hiking poles , Nordic poles are not held vertically in front of the body but instead aimed backwards, like in cross-country skiing.

Nordic poles make you go faster, turning walking into an athletic sport.

Olivier Capelli, double world champion in Nordic walking gives us the definition of Nordic walking: 

Who can do Nordic walking?

Nordic walking is an endurance sport and is an excellent option for those who want to get fit and stay fit. It's 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 state of health, Nordic walking can be adapted to your needs. In Nordic walking, you can start at your own pace and go on according to your own goals and physical abilities.

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

Where did Nordic walking originate?

Mountaineering and cross-country skiing enthusiasts have been practising a kind of Nordic walking in Europe for several decades. In the summer, they make the most of the mild weather to train, walking at a fast pace 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 included a series of training exercises designed to maintain and improve different physical attributes.

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 all the benefits of Nordic walking!