A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Amp up your strolls with walking poles

Woman hiking using walking polesWalking is still one of the best all-around forms of exercise. For an even better workout from your walking routine, take a look at walking poles.

Mary Repking, a physical therapist and certified strength and condition specialist at Marshfield Clinic, said using the slim, lightweight poles works more areas of the body than just legs, including:

  • Upper chest and shoulders
  • Biceps and triceps arm muscles
  • Abdominal and core muscles
  • A faster heart rate, which burns up to 46 percent more calories
  • Restoring muscle endurance and range of motion in the shoulder for breast cancer survivors

“Unless you actually try them, you don’t understand the difference they can make,” Repking said.

Make walking a full-body workout

“An outsider may think there is not much difference between walking with or without poles,” she said. “It might even seem that using poles would actually decrease energy spent. But the easy-to-learn technique of gently pushing downward, as the pole lands, causes a dramatic change in how muscles are used.”

Repking tends to exercise indoors during the winter, so she doesn’t use them as much as she does in warmer seasons. But different tips for poles allow them to be used indoors on floors or outdoors on slippery surfaces.

Older adults use walking poles for many of the same reasons younger people do: an increased intensity to their workout and strengthening of their core. In addition, the poles make them walk more upright, compared to a cane which causes them to lean forward or hunched over.

Walking pole products are offered from a variety of suppliers.

  1. Jun 5, 2015
    • Jun 8, 2015

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