Nordic walking is a physical activity consisting of walking with poles similar to ski poles. It evolved from an off-season ski-training activity known as ski walking or ski striding to become a way of exercising with poles year-round. Ski walking and hill bounding with poles has been practiced for decades as dry land training for competitive cross-country skiing. Ski coaches saw the success of world-class cross-country skiers who used ski poles in the summer for ski walking and hill bounding, and it became a staple of off-season Nordic ski training. Hikers with knee pain discovered they could walk more powerfully with a pair of trekking poles, often eliminate or reduce hip, knee, and foot pain, and backpackers found relief from painful backs when using poles.
Nordic walking combines simplicity and accessibility of walking with simultaneous core and upper body conditioning similar to Nordic skiing. The result is a full-body walking workout that can burn significantly more calories without a change in perceived exertion or having to walk faster.