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Nordic Walking


Summer Nordic Walking

Walking is a highly recommended exercise for those of lymphedema of either the lower or upper extremities. A newer variation on this activity, known Nordic Walking, had its origin in Finland in 1997, and is rapidly becoming popular all over the world and can be enjoyed in summer and winter. Nordic walking has special benefits for those with lymphedema and is a very enjoyable activity to share with a group.


Nordic Walking is fitness walking with specially designed Nordic Walking poles that offers an efficient, aerobic, and easy way to improve your physical condition irrespective of age, sex, or physical condition.

Nordic Walking combines the positive training effects of running combined with the advantages of cross-country skiing. This exercise, which uses a form of modified ski poles, was originated by cross country skiers as a way of exercising during the summer.


Winter Nordic Walking 

The use of the poles and the specific hold-relax technique of the forearm muscles turns out to be very benficial for people in general and lymphedema patients in particular.

Compared with regular walking, Nordic Walking puts less strain on the body and the rate of perceived exertion is the same as walking without the poles. However, there are numerous benefits as shown on this list:

  • Improves metabolism so caloric expenditure, and energy consumption, are increased by an average of 20 percent. 
  • Oxygen consumption increases by as much as a 46 percent. 
  • The heart rate increaseds by 7 to 10 beats per minute.
  • This low impact activity causes less stress on the joints.
  • Improves upper body strength.
  • Effectively releases shoulder and neck tension. This allows the intensity of running without the impact
  • Allows active exercise with stability and safety on slippery surfaces.


For those with lymphedema of either the arms or legs, Nordic Walking provides these special benefits:

  • The added stability of using the poles enable those who need a cane to walk more easily and with less fear of falling.
  • The support of the arms by holding the poles minimizes the strain on the shoulder joint.
  • The specific technique of holding the poles and relaxing the grip while swaying the arms activates the muscle pump of the forearm muscles.
  • The hold-relax actions of the forearm muscles contribute to the extra lymph to flow out of the arm.
  • These movements help to keep surgery and/or radiation scars supple.


In addition to the physical benefits, Nordic Walking is an excellent social outdoor activity for all ages and any fitness level; however, it is important to perform the Nordic Walking using the proper techniques and walking with poles that are properly fitted.

Nordic Walking classes, and walking clubs, are forming across America. Joining such a group is an excellent way to get started and to enjoy the company of others while exercising.


Alma Harrewijn PT, CLT-LANA is a lymphedema therapist,  a member of the Lymph Notes Advisory Board, and a co-author of the book "Living Well with Lymphedema."

© LymphNotes.com 2014. This information does not replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'Living With Lymphedema' forum.
Category: Living With Lymphedema Updated: 2014-06-29


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