Using walking poles is for a lot of active exercisers the preferred form of workout for effectively losing excessive body fat and to stay in shape, largely because it causes considerably less strain on the body compared to many other types of more demanding cardio training, such as jogging and running.
Rough estimates gathered through recent statistics suggests that more than 6 million US citizens may suffer to low back pain and for those, running most likely is not a viable option, when even walking can become an issue for those who struggle with back issues. Ideally, using a pair of walking poles can lessen the pain and bring back the joy of walking, although if you already struggle with back problems, it is advised to consult a doctor first.
Why using walking poles
As previously mentioned, walking is an excellent form of exercise. The daily exercise builds muscles, including the heart, improves your condition, helps control your blood sugar level, and even improves your memory and intelligence. However, when walking without poles you are only using half of your body. Evidently, using walking poles activates more muscles and burns up to 48% more calories. Not only are you getting better cardio workout; your body also develops a better, more upright and natural posture, increasing the effectiveness when exercising by walking.
When shopping for walking poles, take into consideration your body height and weight, walking pattern and other factors that comes into play. When using walking poles it must fit your body proportions and walking style in order to minimize the impact on the lower back and joints when your feet hit the ground, particularly on flat and hard surfaces, when walking down hills, e.t.c. Bear in mind the extra load your knees must endure when walking down hills. Using walking poles helps reduce the impact on your knees in those situations.
Passionate hikers and exercisers often swear by walking poles. Together with high quality hiking shoes such as Sperry Top Sider, Scarpa, Five Ten, it reduces the impact on the lower back, hip and knee joints. Not that, using walking poles drains more energy in some situations, making it ideal for exercising and weight loss, although it has been widely debated whether using walking poles on long trips such as cross country treks, helps preserve your energy or further drain it. Opinions may differ, so try using walking poles on shorter distances first, logging your energy reserves, body weight and cardio values, then look at the numbers to see whether it works best for you, with or without using walking poles.
Using walking poles everywhere you go
These are common scenarios when using walking poles perfectly matched to your body height, are relatively light weight and solid with little flexing, will contribute to a much more enjoyable trip whether you plan on a short stroll, going hiking in the woods or on the country side, conquering a mountain, speed-walking on asphalt roads, gravel or exploring exciting areas:
- Taking nature photos, carrying a camera, lenses and a mono or tri-pod
- Fishing trips with the obligatory fishing rod, reel and accessories
- For exercise trips, carrying only a water flask, perhaps a GPS and/or a mobile phone
- Mountain trips with a rucksack containing warm clothes, food, map and compass, etc.
- You haven’t exercised in a while, and a slow, easy start is the best option
Using walking poles – the adjustable telescopic type
There is a saying that you get what you pay for, which is especially true when it comes to telescopic walking poles. Extendable walking poles has a one-size-fits-all advantage. However, using walking poles not molded in one, rigid piece, may give a different experience. Cheap telescopic walking sticks rarely stays the length at which it was set before use, and the build quality questionable. It goes without saying that you get what you pay for, and high quality telescopic walking sticks can be equally as good as one-piece sticks.
Using walking poles – one piece construction for better stability
Full length wood, aluminum or carbon walking poles lack the telescopic sections and twist lock system prone to wear and malfunction, but also the shock absorption of the spring-loaded, telescopic equivalent. One-piece walking poles are not as convenient in confined spaces, but virtually indestructible, the metal tips last longer and the feeling of high quality is reassuring.
Opt for high quality, whichever you choose, and it will prove a trustworthy travel companion. A pair of high quality walking poles is a sensible investment for trips and exercising. Both types of walking poles are offered in a wide range of brands and models with prices ranging from less than $20 to well above $200 for a pair for the advanced models. Using walking poles is fun, it can preserve your strength on extended walks and definitely adds to your workout.
More information on using walking poles, and health related issues:
- Back pain stats by country, USA (very rough estimates)
- Study shows that walking improves your memory
- Walking and Diabetes