Have you ever noticed those folks out for a stroll, swinging a pair of ski poles back and forth like they were expecting a heavy fall of snow any minute? Well, they are actually involved in a terrific exercise known as Nordic Walking. If you are looking for a way to dial up the health benefits of your daily walk you should give it a go. Nordic Walking is a full-body exercise that’s easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Nordic walking started as a summer training regime for cross-country skiers. The technique is a combination of walking and skiing. The walker user specially designed poles in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk. It’s now a recognised way to turn a simple stroll into whole-body exercise that can be done by anybody, anywhere.

Nordic Walking is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. All you need is a pair of Nordic Walking poles which you can pick up in lots of outdoor shops or online for about £30. Nordic Walking poles are different to those used for trekking because of how the strap is used and the angle you plant them on the ground. When properly used, the poles take the weight off the knees and lower body joints – this makes you feel lighter on your feet.

Nordic Walking is a great way to get some extra health benefits from your walk. It can lower your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. It can also be used as part of an exercise programme to lose weight. Nordic Walking is no harder on the joints than normal walking. It’s suitable for people with joint conditions or who may be carrying some extra body weight.

The basic technique is very simple. You move in a similar way to ordinary walking while swinging your arms from your shoulder with your elbows straight – think of a soldier marching. To get the full benefits and avoid injury, you could start with lessons to get the basic technique.

There are Nordic Walking groups and classes all over the country that cover a whole spectrum of ability from gentle walks for people with health concerns, to workout walks, which are a great way to improve fitness, lose weight and tone the whole body. Bu remember it’s always best to consult your GP before taking up any new exercise.

You can find your nearest Nordic Walking group by visiting the websites of Nordic Walking UK or British Nordic Walking or by searching online.