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Nordic Walking Guide

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Getting Started

Nordic walking is a great workout for all levels because poles offer stability and the routine is considered low-impact. You can buy a good set of poles for around $100 in stores like REI or Sports Authority.

Don't Use Any Old Poles
Save the kind you ski with for the slopes. "You're best off using poles that are designed specifically for Nordic walking," says Malin Svensson, president of Nordic Walking USA in Santa Monica, California. You can choose between adjustable and nonadjustable models. The adjustable versions store easily and can fit more than one user; the nonadjustable models are generally lighter and won't accidentally collapse on you.

Size Them Up
Hold the grip with the tip on the ground and the pole vertical, arm close to body; your elbow should be bent 90 degrees. If you're buying online, nordicwalker.com has a chart that suggests pole height based on your height. If you're a beginner and between sizes, go with the shorter model -- you'll move more fluidly, says Mark Fenton, an International Nordic Walking Association master coach.

Strap In
Like shoes, poles come in left and right models. Find the correct side, then slide your hand through the strap and hold the grip. If there's an additional Velcro strap, wrap it securely around your wrist. Grip the poles lightly with your hands.

Pick Your Setting
Nordic walking poles come with rubber tips, which work best on paved surfaces. If you're walking in grass, sand, dirt or snow, remove the rubber for better traction.

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