An import from Finland (10 percent of Finns regularly Nordic walk for exercise), the poles were introduced to the United States in January 2004; three companies-Exel (, Lefi(, and Swix ( sell the rubber-tipped poles ($60-$200 a set), which are most commonly made from graphite and fiberglass.

Unlike hiking poles, which are used primarily to add stability, Nordic walking poles are also designed to increase the intensity of your workout. You burn 20-46 percent more calories Nordic walking than regular walking and get an upper-body (including abs) workout while taking stress off your ankles and knees.

How to Nordic walk: Plant the poles backward at about a 45-degree angle to the ground, then push the pole and the hand holding it back behind the hip. To maximize intensity and muscle recruitment, push each hand aggressively behind you until the elbow fully extends. This gets your triceps, shoulders and torso involved in the motion,” she says.


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