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Introduction to Nordic walking: a complete sport

Find out all about Nordic walking. A physical activity with health benefits. Learn about its techniques and benefits in our comprehensive guide.

As the name suggests, Nordic walking is an outdoor sport of Scandinavian origin. The discipline originated in Finland in the 1920s, and was practised by cross-country skiers looking to train during the summer. This training was optimal, as it was similar to practising cross-country skiing, with similar poles. Today, Nordic walking is widely practised and has many benefits.

Marche nordique : bienfaits, techniques et conseils pour débuter

What is Nordic walking?

The difference between Nordic walking and traditional walking or hiking is the poles! More active than standard walking, Nordic walking is practised with poles that push you forward while increasing the stride, and activating your arms, shoulders and core.

Marche nordique : bienfaits, techniques et conseils pour débuter


Nordic walking is gaining in popularity, not only because it provides an outdoor activity, but also, and above all, because it has numerous health benefits.

Improved general fitness

Walking is good for the body, excellent for the mind. Regular Nordic walking improves your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, with positive repercussions for your body, metabolism and overall health. These include better regulation of blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and blood pressure... In short, it's perfect for disease prevention!

Benefits for mental health and well-being

Physical activity is good for both body and mind, and it pumps up your endorphins. Regular Nordic walking can therefore help your mood get better and lessen anxiety. 

Weight loss and muscle building

Nordic walking several times a week will help you tone up. You'll be working almost every muscle in your body (up to 90%!) Arms, shoulders, core, back, thighs and buttocks: expect all these muscles to be working during the effort! Thanks to this all-round sport, you could achieve the goals you've set for yourself

Did you know? Nordic walking burns 40% more calories than regular walking.   

Marche nordique : bienfaits, techniques et conseils pour débuter

Basic technique

Nordic walking is a skilful blend of coordination, arm/leg synchronization and pole planting.

Good pole-gripping technique

Grab your poles firmly in hand. As soon as you start walking and plant the pole, make sure it's always tilted backwards. Plant them between your feet, under your center of gravity, to get a good grip on the ground.

Posture and arm movement

Always move your leg and opposite arm forward at the same time. This will propel your body forward and create a beautiful dynamic. As for posture, nothing could be simpler: just remain upright, with your torso tilted slightly forward.

Pace and rhythm

The pace and rhythm in Nordic walking depend on your physical condition and goals. The average speed in this discipline is around 6 km/h. In competition, athletes walk at an average speed of up to 10 km/h. If you're a beginner, start out walking short distances with a pace of 4 or 5 km/h.

Marche nordique : bienfaits, techniques et conseils pour débuter

Essential gear

We love Nordic walking because it doesn't require a lot of equipment. Poles, good shoes and a park: that's it!

Pole length

If you are a novice, choose a shorter pole . It will make it easier. For example, if you are 1.67 m tall, you will need to do the following calculation: 167 x 0.68 = 113.56. In this case, choose a 110 cm pole.

On the other hand, if you've already mastered the technique, you might consider a slightly longer pole. Using the same height example (1.67 m): 167 x 0.68 = 113.56, which means you could opt for a 115 cm pole.

Shoes and clothing

Choose shoes that fit your feet to avoid pain. Wear lightweight, flexible shoes, with good cushioning. If you're a leisurely Nordic walker, choose comfortable clothes, as if you were going for a hike. Looking for a challenge? Dress more like a runner.

Useful additional accessories

If you're planning a long walk, don't forget to take a backpack with energy bars and water. Bring a small pack so you won't be restricted by your movements. If it's a little cool, protect your extremities! Don't forget to bring a hat or headband, and gloves. Finally, think about bringing a podometer.

Marche nordique : bienfaits, techniques et conseils pour débuter

Training plan

Want to improve your performance? Here's how!

Develop a progressive training plan

Regular, progressive training is KEY. Ideally, do three-week training cycles, with the intensity increasing from week to week. Work on: technique, pace, cardio, not forgetting the importance of nutrition and hydration during exercise.

Improve your technique

In order to progress and improve technique, we recommend lengthening your stride and therefore the amplitude of your arms, which will require greater energy expenditure. This will increase your cardiorespiratory capacity and help you improve your technique!

Now that you know all about Nordic walking, why not give it a try? It's a great activity for families and friends. Fun guaranteed!

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