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

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? 

This statistic dates back to 2002 when, at the request of the International Nordic Walking Federation (INWA), the Cooper Institute in the USA undertook research into the physiological responses associated with Nordic Walking

And, indeed, one participant did achieve a 46% increase in calorie burn compared to regular walking. 

But… this result was an outlier, an unusual result, and not typical of all the participants. 

The average results were: 

  • A 17% increase in calorie burn for women.
  • A 21% increase in calorie burn for men.

So a typical Nordic Walker can expect to use up around 20% more calories by using their poles for a walk than when walking without. It’s still a significant and useful difference and well worth doing if you want to lose some weight. 

Can you have your cream tea and eat it? 

Just to put this difference into perspective, let’s look at how much walking – or Nordic Walking – you would have to do to burn off the calories in a cream tea. 

Portion of…


Time to walk it off

Time to Nordic Walk
it off














Total time:

2 hours, 10 minutes

1 hour, 49 minutes

Either way, we should probably look at a cream tea as an occasional treat but it’s clear to see that Nordic Walking will be the quicker way to see off the calories. 

So what about that 46%? 

Could you burn 46% more calories by Nordic Walk? It has been done so it’s possible and you could always aim for that. Why not? And we have two tips to help you: 

  1. Use the same Nordic Walking technique that was used in the research – that’s the 10 Step Method taught by British Nordic Walking instructors and other INWA instructors around the world.
  2. Give it some welly – it won’t be just a stroll in the park!
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