Nordic Walking – Canada’s Hottest New Fitness Trend

“When you propel yourself forward with poles, you get a full-body workout.” That’ll give you stronger muscles and bones — and you’ll you zap more fat., by Amanda Vogel, (Nov.2009)
Did you see a mysterious 'ski-less' cross-country skier on your way to work this morning?

Don’t be fooled, this person knew exactly what she was doing.  Nordic walking aka Urban Poling, is a hot fitness trend quickly spreading throughout Canada. If you like walking, you’ll love the fun and health benefits of Nordic Walking! Increasing numbers of people are enjoying this user-friendly sport that combines the aerobic and strength building benefits of cross-country skiing with the convenience of walking. It has been popular in Scandinavia for over 20 years (maybe this is the true secret why the Swedes look and feel so good!).

For years, health care professionals have stressed the benefits of walking for personal fitness and well-being. Nordic walking takes walking to the next level.  Using specially designed urban poles provides a surprisingly impressive workout, engaging as much as 90% of the body’s muscles while improving posture, balance, and stability. 

By using more muscles, more calories are burned — the Cooper Institute claims using poles can increase calorie expenditure by as much as 46 percent over regular walking. Using poles can increase cardio output by up to 25 percent over regular walking, so it’s an excellent fitness program to increase cardio-vascular fitness.

The growing trend of Nordic walking can be seen throughout British Columbia and across Canada. Its popularity is attributed to the incredible workout that it provides.  “Nordic walking provides excellent strength building and toning results without heavy joint wear and tear,” says Leah Stasiuk, a Vancouver personal trainer and marathon runner. And it’s an activity that is appropriate for any age group, says Stasiuk, whose clients are mostly in their late 20s to 40s. Nordic walking is easily adapted for people from beginner to advanced fitness levels, she adds.

Nordic walking was introduced in Canada approximately five years ago by Vancouver-based occupational therapist, Mandy Shintani. “The problem with just walking, even the athletic type of walking that I teach, is that even though you're going extremely fast your upper body doesn't get a workout," Shintani says. "Your arms do virtually nothing. When you add the Urban poles they give you this amazing upper body and core strengthening workout.
"That means when you finish your walk you don't have to hit the weight room. You don't have to get down and do ab crunches. You've got it all done in one nice package and for our busy schedules that is really appealing."

Many people ask if they can just use ski poles and just start swinging them.
Like any sport, the true benefit to Nordic walking is based upon proper equipment and technique.

Shintani says, "When we originally introduced the poles people would question the need for specialized equipment.  The Urban poles provide stability, minimize vibration and noise. If you're an avid Nordic walker you get it why these things are important. It's the same concept for jogging — you wouldn't run in your dress shoes. The Urban poles are effective due to the unique design – the patented ergonomic strapless handle and boot-like tip is what set them above other cross-country styled poles.”

Our ergonomic strapless handle was carefully designed to most effectively exercise all the body’s major muscles and develop “core fitness” as you are poling! The grip and technique have a focus on core muscles strengthening described in detail in our instructional DVD. 

Essentially, each time you swing your arm forward, you must plant your pole into the ground and as you walk through your stride you push off or ‘propel’ yourself forward. It is this motion that activates your core muscles.   If you walk one mile with the poles you will achieve 1800 abdominal muscles contractions.

Whether you are looking for motivation to get off the couch, a way to optimize your current walking routine or for an effective cross-training alternative to yoga or Pilates – Nordic walking may be for you!

Key facts about Nordic walking:

  • 28% increased cardio workout
  • Burn up to 46% more calories compared to ‘regular’ walking
  • Core muscle strengthening
  • Reduces stress on hips, knees & ankles
  • Provides stability & balance
  • Improves posture
  • Provides resistance training
  • Easy to learn and suitable for people of all ages & fitness levels!


For more information on Urban poles, research and technique, visit or call 604 990-7711.

Recent Media Exposure – “Living in Toronto” and “CTV News with Dr. Ronda Low”

By: Graham Watts, Co-owner, Urban Poling Inc.



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