How to Exercise With Walking Sticks

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Walking sticks, or walking poles, are used to enhance walking as an exercise. Walkers and hikers use poles to increase the intensity of a workout and increase upper body strength. It involves pectorals, triceps and abdominal muscles, which raise the heart rate higher than regular walking does. The activity is like "cross-country skiing for walkers," reports the mayo Clinic. The added intensity increases the number of calories burned and improves stability. Walking poles are helpful because they relieve the load that walking can place on knees, hips, ankles and lower back. Walking with poles might be just what you're looking for to spice up your walking routine.

Things You'll Need

  • Walking shoes
  • Practice. Get a feel for the action of walking with the poles. Walk carrying the poles and then dragging them to get accustomed to how it feels walking with them. Also practice planting the poles in the earth, while gripping the poles and pushing back as you step forward.

  • Pay attention to your arms. Walk with your arms in front of you. Your arms should be parallel with the ground. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle and "pump them back and forth like pistons as you pace," reports U. S. News and World Report.

  • Step strong. As you step forward with the left foot, plant the tip of the right pole across from your left ankle, or heel. The pole should always be angled toward, but not in front of, your body. Repeat with each foot. If you are walking fast, your strides should be smaller, while slower strides can be larger.

  • Stand tall. U. S. News and World Report states leaning forward is a mistake many make walking with poles. Standing straight will help work core muscles.

  • Add a bounce to your step. As you gain experience, try bouncing off (stepping with a little push, or bounce) with each step to increase the intensity of your workout.

Tips & Warnings

  • Good quality poles will have ergonomically correct hand grips that are comfortable when you use them. Wrist straps are important to keep from dropping poles. A single pole shaft is lightweight and strong but it will not shorten. A telescoping pole weighs more but its height can be adjusted to your workout and/or terrain.

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