Seniors boost walking power with Nordic poles

Looking for a way to boost your walking power that’s also joint friendly, gives you an upper-body and core workout, and helps your balance too? Welcome to Nordic pole walking, a fun—and senior friendly activity—that all people, including those with arthritis*, shoulder problems, and Parkinson’s*, may find enjoyable and helpful in managing their health.

What is Nordic pole walking?

Invented in 1960s* Finland, Nordic pole walking evolved from a summer training program used by cross-country ski athletes. Also known as “urban pole walking,” or simply “Nordic walking,” the sport is much like cross-country skiing, minus the skis. You’ve probably seen people striding along in parks, on city sidewalks, or hiking trails, using the poles to propel themselves along.

Why should I do it?

If you’re already a walker and are looking to boost your overall level of fitness, including cardiovascular capacity, balance—including fall prevention—flexibility, muscle strength, and calorie burning, Nordic walking ticks all the boxes*. Studies have found that you can maintain the same speed and walking distance as your regular walk, and get a better workout* because you are engaging your arms and upper body.

Nordic walking is also a great activity to do with friends, especially if you’re learning together. You’re more likely to keep walking if you know friends are waiting for you—and you’ll reap the health benefits of socializing with others.

Is it difficult to learn?

Nordic walking is easy to learn—but a little more difficult to master, say some experts. You can watch a beginner-level YouTube video from Nordixx Canada here, or get in touch with a local organization* for beginner classes and group walks.

What equipment do I need?

All you need are comfortable running shoes, weather-appropriate active wear (your body will warm up quickly!), and a pair of poles. The poles differ from regular hiking or trekking ones in that they have specialized tips for different surfaces, and a glove-style strap* so you can release the pole with every arm swing. 

Can I do it in the winter?

Remembering that Nordic walking originated from cross-country skiing, it can be a great winter activity—as long as you’re dressed appropriately and are not venturing out in icy, extremely cold or snowy conditions. One physiotherapist actually recommends using poles* during the winter, especially if you have balance issues. Of course, be guided by your own comfort level, and always consult your healthcare professional before starting any new physical activity.

At Chartwell, we believe that keeping active and socially engaged is the key to a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life. Every Chartwell residence offers recreational, fitness and social activities. To learn more, or to arrange a visit to a Chartwell residence, please call 1-855-461-0685 or visit

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:

  1. Arthritis Foundation. "Why Try Nordic Walking?", Online:
  2. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences 12 (Special Issue 6). "Comparison of Shoulder Ranges of Motion During Nordic Pole Walking and General Walking in the Elderly" (2017), Online:
  3. Parkinson's Foundation. "Pole Walking for Parkinson’s: How this Nordic Workout Improves Mobility" (2022), Online:
  4. INWA. "Welcome to the International Nordic Walking Rederation", Online:
  5. The Conversation. "Seven reasons Nordic walking is better for you than the normal kind"(2022), Online:
  6. CARP. "Nordic Walking – Add Years to your Life!"(2021), Online:
  7. Bristol NORDIC WALKING. "What’s the difference between Nordic walking and trekking poles?"(2020), Online:
  8. nordix. "Pole Walking Group", Online:
  9. CBC. "Walking tips for safer strolls this winter"(2020),