We're sure you've seen them out and about, people out walking with walking poles. It looks a little like cross country skiing without the skis. What's the deal?
Well, these poles take your walking exercise and kick it up a notch. Swinging the poles engages your arms, shoulders and back while increasing your heart rate. Actually, it has been found that walking with poles increases your calorie burn by 15-20% on average (in some cases, up to 50%) even though you don't feel like you are working any harder.
decided to put all of this to the test. They had 38 women follow an eight week plan. These women reported increased happiness and energy levels and lost, on average, 5.5 pounds!
Are you curious? Check out Prevention's 8 week plan:
PART I: BALANCE WALKING WORKOUT
Use your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) as a guide, with 1 equivalent to sitting on the couch and 10 an all-out effort. At 5 or 6, you should be slightly breathless but able to speak. At 7 or 8, you should be able to say only a few words between breaths.
Proper Pole Walking 101
Adjust your poles to the correct height by grasping the handgrip of one pole and adjusting it until your elbow reaches a 90 degree angle. Do the same for the other pole. If you want an easier workout, make the poles an inch or two shorter.
If you're walking on asphalt or concrete, twist the rubber tip on the bottom of each pole so that it faces behind you. Use the spike when walking on grass or dirt. The hand straps should be comfortably snug.
Start walking slowly, swinging one arm at a time. When the left pole goes forward, so does your right foot and vice versa. When poles swing forward, plant them about one foot behind your extended foot.
Continue to swing arms and poles. As you get more comfortable with the process, focus on pressing down when the pole meets the ground. It will better engage your arm and upper-back muscles.
PART II: LOWER-BODY STRENGTH MOVES
Walking with poles works the upper body but you can't forget the lower half! So do these moves three times a week, starting with one rep and, as you build strength, working your way up to three reps.
Rear Lunge With Knee-Up
Stand with right hand on pole, as shown. Lunge back with left leg, lowering knee toward floor. Stand up, bringing left knee forward to hip level. Do 8 to 12 reps with each leg.
Sit with knees and elbows bent and heels on floor, holding pole horizontally at chest level. Lift feet and lean back slightly, engaging abs. Twisting torso to right, "row" pole behind you (as though paddling a kayak). Slowly return to center, and then twist to left to complete one rep. Do 12 to 15 reps.
Single-Leg Dead Lift
Stand, holding pole horizontally in front of thighs. Lift right leg behind you as you hinge forward from hips, bringing pole toward floor; keep abs tight and head in line with spine. Do 8 to 12 reps; switch legs and repeat.
Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart, toes pointing outward, arms extended forward and hands gripping pole gently. Lift heels, rising onto balls of feet. Slowly lower into squat, bending at knees and keeping chest upright. Hold, then slowly straighten legs. Keep heels lifted throughout. Do 12 to 15 reps.
PART III: RELAX AND RECHARGE
Relaxing is a key part of any weight loss or fitness routine. If you're stressed or tense it can lead to overeating, carrying extra fat around the middle and/or messed up sleep patterns. Andy Puddicombe shared these tips with Prevention to help you relax any time, any place.
four deep breaths, inhaling through nose and exhaling through mouth.
to breathe deeply, placing hand over belly button. For two minutes, focus on the rise and fall of your hand. In public? Bring awareness to your lungs.
on something specific when distracted by your thoughts, like a calming image or phrase or your sense of touch. "When you're fully engaged in the present moment, stressful thoughts will fall away," Puddicombe says.
Sounds easy enough! Do you use poles in your workout? Have they changed your workout? Share your experiences with us!