What is Nordic Walking?

This new activity from Finland is an easy way to keep fit that everyone can do. It used to be done only by skiers but now about 10 million people around the world enjoy the health and fitness benefits of this full body workout.

Summer training for skiers

Cross country skiers had trained with their poles over the summer months since the 1930s. The first evidence of walking with the poles for exercise was in 1966, when Leena Jääskeläinen, a PE teacher in the School of Viherlaakso, Helsinki, introduced “walking with ski poles” into the students’ lessons.

The move to bring Nordic Walking to the attention of the general public as a exercise activity came in the early 1990′s with the work of Tuomo Jantunen, director of Suomen Latu (The Central Association for Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities), Matti Heikkilä, manager of the testing laboratory at Vierumäki Sports Institute and Aki Karihtala, then senior vice president of Exel Oy’s and presently President of INWA. Exel decided to name the activity “Nordic Walking” which is now the term used worldwide. The first Nordic Walking poles were produced by Exel in 1997.

What is Nordic Walking Summer Training

Nordic Walking for Everyone

Nordic Walking

In 2000 Aki Karihtala founded INWA (International Nordic Walking Association), which then started developing educational programs and instructor networks for Nordic Walking. Soon after its establishment, other countries started forming associations of which some joined INWA and some started working independently. The first INWA instructors started teaching in the UK in 2004 with British Nordic Walking being the INWA representative from 2008.

INWA instructors in the UK work with British Nordic Walking to provide technique workshops and ongoing regular Nordic Walking activities in the cities and our beautiful rural locations.

Future Development

Midlands Nordic Walking instructors are involved in the development of Nordic Walking in the following areas:

  • Increasing physical activity in areas of poor health
  • Prescription of Nordic Walking for patients
  • Use of Nordic Walking in rehabilitation by physiotherapists
  • Use of Nordic Walking in primary and secondary schools
  • Recognition from UK Athletics and parkrun for the inclusion of Nordic Walkers
  • Development of Nordic Challenge series
  • Weight management with Nordic Walking
  • Nordic Walking for young adults with learning disabilities
  • Nordic Walking for people with Parkinson's
  • Nordic Walking to improve mental health
  • Nordic Walking for the over 50s with Age UK
  • Supporting the London 2012 legacy and Community Games

Nordic Walking the future