The luxury of walking with poles

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As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)

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I love the conclusion, in slightly stilted English, of this paper on Nordic walking (a.k.a. walking with poles):

“The work of the upper extremities seems to be a luxury effort for Nordic walkers with a proper technique.”

The study is actually fairly subtle, tracking the pole force and oxygen consumption of walkers on grass, concrete, and rubberized track. Since the walkers had to work much harder on grass even though the pole forces stay the same, the researchers conclude that it’s the legs doing all the work — the arms are just “luxury!”

This is actually something I’ve been wondering about ever since I started seeing hikers zooming up and down mountains using those ski pole thingies. I’ve even been a convert, using them for a 12-day trek in the Rockies. Now they’re ubiquitous, and — German study notwithstanding — I’m curious about their benefits. Perhaps something to look into…

Elliptical vs. running

THANK YOU FOR VISITING SWEATSCIENCE.COM!

As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)

***

Last month, I wrote a column comparing running on the treadmill to running outside. Afterwards, I got several e-mails saying, “Hey, that’s great, but what about elliptical trainers?” It’s a good question, so I decided to do a column on it:

The question: Do I get the same workout from the elliptical machine that I get from running?

The answer:

[Read the Globe column here.]