Exerstriding and Nordic walking are both walking exercises that use poles. There is a slight learning curve for those new to walking with poles but the benefits are well worth the effort. You strengthen your upper body and core muscles as your arms, poles and legs all work together in unison. Both walking exercises provide an excellent aerobic workout.
The Exerstrider Poles
The poles developed for Exerstriding combine the shaft of a ski pole and the hand-grip of a hiking pole. They are very light weight and the lengths are adjustable. They also have the pointed end-tips of ski poles, which are used for Exerstriding in the snow. However, since most exercisers walk when it is drier, there are several types of rubberized "feet" that are designed to fit over the pointed tips. You can also Exerstride with your poles on indoor tracks but definitely not on treadmills.
Walking the Exerstrider Way
The first thing you’ll do is adjust your poles for your height. Grasp the hand-grips and place the poles parallel to your body, elbows at your sides. Your hands should be slightly lower than your bent elbows. Begin the exercise by stepping forward with your right foot as you move your left pole forward. Your right foot and your left pole should move in unison, as should your left foot and right pole as you begin to walk. The arm that swings back should keep a slightly bent elbow and plant the pole. Your other arm should swing forward, lifting and moving the pole with it.
Nordic Walking Poles
The originators of Nordic walking adapted cross-country ski poles for a unique type of poled walking exercise. The poles are light-weight with adjustable lengths and also have the pointed end-tips. They also offer rubberized tips for dry surface walking. However, Nordic walking poles have retained the gloved hand-grips of cross-country skis. The gloved hand-grip creates a cross-country skiing while walking type of experience for exercisers.
The Nordic Walking Technique
To start, place your hands in the gloves and adjust the Velcro around your wrists in a tight, but comfortable manner. The pole height should be adjusted so your hands are slightly lower than your bent elbows. Your right foot and left pole should move in unison, as should your left foot and right pole. The arm that moves back should straighten and swing from your shoulder. Your hand in the gloved grip should swing slightly behind your hip, causing the planted pole to angle low to the ground. Next, release your grip, lifting and swinging the pole forward using the glove as your other arm and pole move backwards.