5 Reasons You Should Walk with Trekking Poles

Older couple walking through a park with prosourcefit trekking poles

Adam Riemer |

Do you want a simple way to stay active and get fit without having to go to the gym or learn fancy exercises?

Then it’s time to try walking with trekking poles!

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, especially for older adults, because it is low-impact, simple, social, and free. However, basic walking may be too light of an exercise for many people, because it doesn’t require much strength and the pace may be too slow to be considered aerobic.

According to the Center for Disease Control, adults should be getting a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, plus muscle-strengthening activities 2 days per week. This includes adults over 65 years of age who are generally healthy with no limiting conditions.

Trekking poles are a simple and affordable way to increase the intensity of walking, and are ideal for getting into nature and safely enjoying hiking, backpacking, or snowshoeing. Walking with poles (also known as Nordic walking) in parks and cities has also become very popular due to its convenience and effectiveness.  

Two people walking trail with prosourcefit trekking poles


  1. Reduces Joint Strain

Using trekking poles helps to reduce the amount of impact on joints and pain you feel when walking or hiking. This is due to the change in weight distribution when you use your upper body to help propel you up a mountain or through a trail. Your hips, knees, and ankles will experience relief since your legs aren’t carrying all your body weight. This also means that you can walk further and recover faster from long or strenuous hikes.

  1. Better Circulation

Another benefit to having your arms involved when walking is that it improves circulation because your arms stay near your heart the entire time. Many users find that because their arms are not hanging by their sides, they experience less swelling in their hands.

  1. Improves Balance & Reduces Slipping or Falling

Hiking poles essentially become like lengthened arms, enabling you to move a bit more like you have four legs. This provides drastically more stability and balance. The poles can be placed out in front of you to prevent falling, both uphill and down. They are also ideal when crossing streams and other uneven or slippery terrain. For older adults, the added balance is key to feel safe and secure, whether Nordic walking through Central Park or climbing a mountain.

Older couple walking through a park with prosourcefit trekking poles

  1. Builds Arm Strength & Bone Density

Involving your arms not only reduces joint strain and improves circulation, but it also helps to build you upper body strength. You will use chest, back, and shoulder muscles to propel and support yourself as you walk, develop those areas over time. Consequently, bone density will also be built from the constant use of those muscles.

  1. Increases Calorie Burn & Oxygen Consumption

If one of your main goals with walking is to improve your fitness, then trekking poles will definitely help! A study by The Cooper Institute showed that Nordic walking increased energy expenditure and oxygen consumption by about 20%, compared to regular walking without poles. Even better news is that the perceived rate of exertion did not increase, meaning people burned more calories without feeling like they were putting in extra effort. Do keep in mind that if you already find walking or hiking to be strenuous or exhausting, this could actually be a hindrance. In this case you may just want to take poles along to support your balance and to clear your pathway of branches or obstructions, but allow your legs to do most of the work.



  1. Set Correct Height & Posture- when the pole is touching the ground, adjust the height so arms are bent at approximately 90 degrees when holding the handle. Keep elbows close to your sides when walking, and keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
  2. Get a Grip - put your hand through the strap and adjust it securely around your wrist. Place fingers along the grips and hold loosely - no death grips!
  3. Choose the Correct Tip - The rubber tip that comes with poles should be used on paved surfaces. When you’re on dirt or snow, you can remove them for better stability with the metal, pointed tip.
  4. Maintain a Steady Pattern - According to BackPackingLight.com, there are three movement patterns you can use:
    1. Alternate arm and leg - the pole goes forward at the same time as your opposite leg steps forward. This is best for balance.
    2. Parallel legs – pole moves forward with the same-side leg. This offers the most relief for legs and fatigue.
    3. Double – both poles move forward at the same time. This is most helpful for stepping up or down.
  5. Practice Your Technique – walking with poles doesn’t come naturally like regular walking. Practice your pole walking technique near home in a park or on a paved road, getting used to the natural rhythm of pushing forward with the poles, then letting the poles drag behind you until you lift and plant them again.
  6. Use Your Arms - Make sure to put some of the load onto your shoulders in order to relieve stress to your legs. Your arms should feel like they’re working, not just dragging the poles along.

Now you’re ready to get started. Happy trekking!










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