A guide to Nordic Walking October 31 2023

 What is Nordic walking? At its core, Nordic Walking is a walking technique that uses poles to work your upper body as well as your legs. It’s a whole-body exercise that can be enjoyed at low, medium or high intensity. Walking with poles is proven to burn more calories, as well as releasing tension in your neck and shoulders. Yes, it’s a workout, but the joy of the technique is that it doesn’t feel like one! Its name comes from the fact that it originated in Finland. 


Does Nordic walking actually work? Nordic Walking targets your legs, arms and core muscles so you get a full body work out, without feeling like it. Although the technique is based on a good natural walking style, you’ll need some lessons to ensure you get the technique right and feel the full benefits.  Once you have had a few lessons with a qualified BNW Nordic Walking Instructor, you’ll start to feel the impact. Various studies have documented the health benefits of Nordic Walking and the INWA 10 Step in particular.  


What are the benefits of Nordic Walking? Regular Nordic walking will, as well as improving your fitness levels and building muscle strength, reduce stress levels by working out outdoors! Classes are highly sociable – working out at a walking pace means you can hold a full conversation. Most people join for the exercise but stay for the community! By working more muscles than regular walking, you will increase your heart rate and calories burned.  


Do I need lessons to Nordic Walk? Although it may look simple and be based on something you do every day, learning the correct technique from a qualified BNW Nordic Walking instructor can reduce the impact of walking on joints and ease muscle tightness. Our Instructors are trained to help you get the best technique so you get the most effective workout.  


Can Nordic walking get me fit? Nordic Walking engages 80-90% of your muscles, helping to build muscle strength. As you intensify your workout, you’ll get your heart rate up gently. There are lots of beneficial effects on resting heartbeat, blood pressure and oxygen capacity shown in this research Health benefits of Nordic walking: a systematic review - PubMed ( 


How to use the sticks? 

We call them poles by the way 😊 Your instructor will have poles available for you to try and give a full demonstration. They will be able to tell you what height pole to use (this is very important!). Nordic Walking poles have special straps to keep your pole attached to your hand, without you having to constantly squeeze the pole. Look for poles with straps that you can remove easily from the pole – they can speed up removing the pole. Poles vary in price depending on style and quality. We highly recommend using the poles provided by the Instructor so that you can find the best sort for you – they are the experts after all! 

How to choose a Nordic Walking Class September 25 2023

Have you ever taken a class that left you feeling like you didn’t fit in? Have you tried a new type of exercise that you found stressful to learn? Nordic Walking is a gentle, full-body technique of walking which is fully inclusive. Suitable for people of various ages and abilities, it builds on your existing walking technique and takes it up a level. Due to its gentle nature, it is a highly sociable activity 

Walk around the World! May 18 2023

Not only is May National Walking Month, it also brings us World Nordic Walking Day  - Saturday 20th May 2023. The theme decided by INWA for this years celebration of Nordic Walking is Fun, Friendship and Freedom. Here at British Nordic Walking, we can't think of a better theme to represent what our walkers share each time they step out together. 

We're delighted to announce a new partnership! April 19 2023

We've been admirers and listeners to Mary Tweed's award-winning podcast for a long time here at British Nordic Walking. We love the combination of inspiration, information and general bonhomie. So we are excited to announce that we are sponsoring the podcast to work together to raise the profile of Nordic Walking and BNW. 

CEO Catherine Hughes explained :

Partnering with Mary's Walking on Air podcast is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about Nordic walking. We are aiming to increase awareness and participation in this accessible and enjoyable form of exercise.  BNW are very proud to support Mary's podcast; it is a superb showcase of all the exciting developments in Nordic Walking.

 Mary in a sunny field proudly wearing her instructor jacket

Last year was an amazing year for Mary, both with growing the number of listeners and winning two awards. In March, we reported that the Suffolk-based Instructor was awarded Inspiration of the Year at the Sports and Recreation Alliance National Awards. In December, the awards continued to flow as Mary collected the Coaching Podcast of the Year Award from the UK Coaching. 

"I am delighted that BNW is supporting the Walking On Air podcast.  I have been proud to wear my bright red British Nordic Walking instructor's jacket for the last 9 years and to uphold INWA's values.  As an instructor myself, I see the difference that Nordic Walking makes to people's daily lives and the supportive communities that are created around each class.  It is a privilege to teach the BNW method, knowing that I am helping people get the most out of their Nordic Walking and hope that the podcast will encourage more people to grab a pair of poles, look up their nearest British Nordic Walking instructor and join the community."

You can hear the latest podcast from today

Convention 2022 November 15 2022

We are delighted to be hosting our (final?) online Nordic walking convention on Saturday 19th November 2022 between 9.30 and 11.30. There is still time to register for a place to find out the latest news and information. You'll also be the first to find the dates and details for next years in-person convention!

Click here to find out the program and book your tickets. 

This event is for members of British Nordic Walking only. If your membership has lapsed, why not take advantage of our special price to rejoin and get attendance to the big event? 

Perimenopausal or postmenopausal – Nordic Walking is great for your wellbeing October 18 2022

Women experience a variety of symptoms at this stage of their lives.  Some of the more common ones are

  1. weight gain
  2. brain fog
  3. hot flushes
  4. musculoskeletal pain
  5. mood swings

Research done with 196 postmenopausal women in Italy showed that Nordic Walking was better than Pilates for losing weight and reducing blood glucose and the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. (Effects of Nordic Walking and Pilates exercise programs on blood glucose and lipid profile in postmenopausal women)  After only 10 weeks of Nordic Walking they had lost more weight that the Pilates and control groups.

Another research study on postmenopausal women (Nordic walking increases circulating VEGF more than walking in postmenopause) showed that Nordic Walking was better than walking for creating an important substance called vascular endothelial growth factor (or VEGF for short).  VEGF helps in the formation of small blood vessels and also assists with would healing.  It’s really important in body areas that need a good blood flow like one’s lungs and brain.

There’s plenty of evidence that proves that exercise in general reduces the frequency and intensity of hot flushes and improves one’s mental health and wellbeing.  Nordic Walking is the exercise of choice for women because it spreads the effort over the whole body so is more comfortable for people who have musculoskeletal pain. 

Finally, if you’ve ever Nordic Walked with one of our instructor led groups – or maybe seen some of the photos of happy smiling faces on our Facebook page, then you’ll know how good our group sessions are for one’s mental health and wellbeing.  If you’ve not tried Nordic Walking yet – find your nearest INWA Instructor on our search facility: British Nordic Walking



This October we're helping Parkrun celebrate 18 years October 04 2022

Parkrun's inclusive ethos started 18 years ago with the aim that anyone could join, no matter who,where or how.It's an international movement that celebrates taking part and joining in - no matter how fast you are - it's more about the joining in!   Unlike others, there is no time limit at Parkrun and each one has a Tailwalker to make sure everyone gets over the line.

To celebrate 18 years, October is being dedicated to walking at parkrun - otherwise known as parkwalk. British Nordic Walking is delighted to be taking part in this international promotion of walking. Nordic Walking has been allowed at parkrun for over 10 years, but this October we want to really put it on the map. 

"In 2011 I came across a local parkrun. I phoned parkrun HQ to request to take part and was soon told we were very welcome to join in. Since then, we have Nordic walked a number of different park runs locally and have been tourists on our travels. They are so friendly and well run that we’re hooked. Being part of a group seems to pull us along and we end the events buzzing!" British Nordic Walking CEO, Catherine Hughes, explains that there has been a long partnership between Nordic Walking and park run.

We've already seen Sherwood Nordic Walking and Exe Nordic Walking sharing their experiences of parkwalking . During October we're hoping that every parkrun gets to see what Nordic Walking is all about. 


Frequently asked questions:

What is Nordic Walking? Nordic Walking is a fabulous total body workout. Nordic Walkers use special poles to propel them forwards. The use of poles engages muscles throughout the body making Nordic Walking a more effective workout than simply walking.

Who can Nordic Walk? Nordic Walking is open to everyone. There are classes to suit all levels of fitness. Whilst some people use it as a rehabilitation exercise, across Europe it is used as a low impact fitness exercise. So if you're looking for a way to get back into exercise after injury, it's a great way to improve your fitness. 

How is it different to trekking? It's all in the angle of the poles - we plant our poles behind us, propelling us forwards. This engages your core muscles and makes you feel lighter on your feet. Nordic Walkers often say that the poles help them keep walking longer. 



Return of the big steppers September 13 2022

The mythical number of 10,000 steps is often quoted as being beneficial to health. How many of us set a daily target of 10k steps to reach each day? How many of us meet that target? Maybe we should be taking that number more seriously according to this new report from Jama Neurology. 

The study found that both the stepping intensity and the number of steps were important.  Dr Porsteinsson, professor and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program (AD-CARE) at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told Medical News "There are strong links between physical activity and  better cognition." He agreed that any exercise will help reduce risk. “[It’s] never too late to get started and even a relatively small effort is beneficial and can then be added to as endurance improves,”  

Nordic Walking is more effective than HIIT workouts - who knew? July 05 2022

CNN story this morning that a report released today shows that Nordic Walking is more effective than HIIT workouts.

Walking back to Happiness May 09 2022

We're featured in a blog for the Sports and Recreation Alliance.

Award winning instructors and podcast! March 29 2022

We're delighted that our own Mary Tweed from Walking on Air and Nordic Walking East Anglia has been recognised for the fantastic work she has done to raise awareness of Nordic Walking and it's health benefits.

Why specially designed Nordic Walking poles are essential to go "Nordic Walking" July 28 2021

“In Nordic Walking the active use of specially designed poles engages both the upper and lower body, enhancing your walking technique, to propel yourself forward.” 

“Specially designed poles” means the use of Nordic Walking poles, not trekking poles, Activator poles, Exerstrider poles, or any other non-Nordic Walking poles. 

The 10-Step technique, which all our instructors have been trained to teach, includes steps that cannot be performed with other poles.

Community Project: Communities First March 30 2021

Communities First Nordic Walking Project

“A fantastic example of how Nordic Walking can appeal to everyone, of any age, from any social background, of any ethnicity, and living in any environment. Nordic Walking truly has the ability to appeal to anyone,” says Yvonne Bignall, the British Nordic Walking instructor who led this project with Communities First, a charity based in South London.

Nordic Walkers needed to help with Covid-19 research February 13 2021

 Running Through Covid-19 research

Running Through is a research project from the University of Nottingham to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on the running community - and now on the Nordic Walking community too.

Whether you have had Covid-19 or not, this is your chance to contribute to an understanding of the impact the pandemic has had on our community and, ultimately, to recommendations that can be made regarding training load, intensity and infection recovery.

If enough Nordic Walkers participate the researchers will be able to analyse their anonymised research data to answer questions that specifically look at injuries, illness and health of Nordic Walking participants. So please sign up and encourage all your Nordic Walking friends and colleagues to join in too.

You can follow Running Through on their social media:

What do you need to do to join this research?

You will need to:

  • Register with the research project.
  • Use one of the associate fitness tracker apps - Strava or Garmin - when you Nordic Walk. Alternatively you could sync your favourite app with Strava or Garmin.
  • Complete a weekly questionnaire sent by email for six months.

There is no need to change any of your activities or habits - just carry on as you would normally do.

How to register with Running Through

First of all, be aware that the project has been set up for runners so the language in the project is based around running and jogging. British Nordic Walking approached the researchers to suggest also looking at Nordic Walking on hearing about the project but it is too late to make changes to the research questions to include reference to Nordic Walking. The instructions below show you how to flag up that you are a Nordic Walker in the registration process.

Step 1. Go to the Running Through website and sign up

The website is - just click on Sign Up Now.

Running Through Cov-19 research sign up

Step 2. Make sure that you read the Participant Information Sheet before you go further.

There will be a link to this document which will tell you all you need to know about your involvement in the project.

Step 3. Complete the consent form

All your personal data will be treated confidentially.

Running Through consent form

Step 4. Complete the registration form

This will include submitting details of your height, weight, etc., your activity preferences (it talks about running but read this as Nordic Walking), and about your health habits, and about various health conditions.

Running Through questionnaire


This is the section where you need to flag up that you are a Nordic Walker. Do this by:

  • Going to the question, Which terrain do you most commonly run on?
  • Clicking on Other.

Running Through questionnaire

Then, Under Please Specify, put Nordic Walking on Road or Nordic Walking on Trail. The researchers will use this to identify who is a Nordic Walker.

Running Through questionnaire

Continue through this questionnaire, remembering that you need to read "running" and "jogging" as "Nordic Walking".

Step 5. Connect to your fitness tracker

The partner apps for this research project are Garmin and Strava. You will need an account for one of these to connect your Running Through account.

Running Through connect to app

Once the connection has been made, this will be shown on your Running Through account.

Running Through app confirmationAnd that's it. You're good to go. All you need to do is make sure you are using you tracker app when you Nordic Walk - if you use your tracker for more than one type of exercise, you might want to name each Nordic Walking activity accordingly - and complete the weekly questionnaire.

And, of course, to spread the word - we'd like as many Nordic Walkers as possible to participate.

Hatti Bell: award-winning British Nordic Walking instructor December 19 2020

Hatti Bell, British Nordic Walking instructor

British Nordic Walking instructor, Hatti Bell, given the Joan Alexander Award by Age UK Sutton for the work she does with their Nordic Walking group. 

What is the difference between Nordic Walking and pole walking? November 19 2020

Nordic Walking vs pole walking

Nordic Walking is not just "walking with poles" and with good reason. Originally developed as a means of helping cross country skiers to train when there is no snow, Nordic Walking is now very much its own thing, its special technique using specially designed poles enhancing the natural movement of walking to create extra power.

This video, from Gilly Davy, an INWA Nordic Walking instructor and respected neuro physiotherapist, explains the difference between Nordic Walking and pole walking, why this difference matters, and how you can tell the difference between Nordic Walking poles and other types of walking pole.

Community Project: Nordic Walking for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis September 21 2020

Nordic Walking osteoporosis osteoarthritis

Stockport-based Life Leisure came across research that suggested Nordic Walking improves bone and muscular strength in older adults and those with osteoporosis. 

From this came the idea to create a local walking group for people with osteoarthritis. 

Connecting with Community - Sue Holden builds links with GoodGym September 20 2020

Exe Nordic Walking and GoodGym

‘Getting Fitter Picking Litter’ and ‘Pickers and Poles’ have been the tag lines for ourExe Nordic Walking's first two events in conjunction with the charity GoodGym. Klara from GoodGym and Sue Holden of Exe Nordic Walking met at Parkrun last year and discussed how great working together would be, one day...

Meet Yvonne Bignall, instructor, personal trainer, and women's health advocate September 19 2020

YvonneB British Nordic Walking instructor

Yvonne Bignall, AKA YvonneB, is an Award Winning Women’s Health Advocate, Self-Care Coach, British Nordic Walking Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Weight Loss Practitioner who started Nordic Walking Instructing two years ago after hearing about it from a business colleague. Intrigued by this low-impact outdoor activity, she signed up for the instructors weekend programme.

Community Project: Step Forth supported by Paths for All August 24 2020

Nordic Walking Falkirk Paths for All Step Forth

Step Forth is a led health walks scheme, run by Falkirk Community Trust. It’s aim is to get more people active within their own communities especially those who are sedentary, who live in areas of poor health or who are socially isolated. 

The project added Nordic Walking to the health walk mix because they learned about the impact that that the Finnish government's health policy had on improving its people's health - and it included Nordic Walking!orld. 

Marion's fund-raising challenge August 20 2020

Marion and Pauline Nordic Walking Bristol

Can a 76-year old meet the challenge of walking 1,200 miles in a year? It’s the equivalent of walking from Bristol to John O’Groats and back again – and Marion is determined to achieve this with some help from her Nordic Walking poles.

Meet Gareth Davies, instructor, gold medal winner, and much more August 18 2020

Gareth Davies British Nordic Walking instructor

Gareth Davies is a British Nordic Walking instructor, Master Personal Trainer, GP Exercise Referral Instructor and Weight Management Specialist for Diabetes and Obesity. He took the gold medal at the 2019 INWA World Cup in Estonia for the 10km distance in the Masters category with a time of 01:09:44 - a time which he has since beaten in our recent Virtual Nordic Walking Challenge at 01:07:23.

Gareth has been a British Nordic Walking instructor for 10 years. Here's what he shared with us about his experience.

Nordic Walking burns 46% more calories than normal walking. Or does it? July 30 2020

Calories in a cream tea

We’ve probably all heard the claim – that Nordic Walking uses up to 46% more calories than normal walking. But where does this claim come from? And is it too good to be true? 

Get started with Nordic Walking for Better Health July 28 2020

Nordic Walking for Better Health

If you started enjoying outdoor exercise during lockdown... If you know you need to get healthier to help protect yourself from the effects of coronavirus…  If you want to get back to exercising but are concerned about doing so indoors…

Then Nordic Walking is for you. 

Here's what you need to know to get started...