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Nordic Walking in Paris

As a kid, I remember having read in the school books that Mahatma Gandhi used to walk about 10 Kms a day. While that has never been my goal, but I do derive pleasure out of walking- all by myself or in company. Have you ever been intrigued by walkers or trekker with poles that look like ski poles? Chances are that you are looking at a practitioner of Nordic Walking.


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Nordic Walking originated in the Scandinavian countries. It evolved as a form of ski training where cross-country skiers would use the poles on dry land for training in off-season. This made them more effective and the ease of using it all year around is an extra benefit. There are more than 7 Mn Nordic Walkers in the world. A couple of years old in Paris, Nordic walking started around 2007, and continues to increase its followers.


The technique, though simple, does require a bit of initial training. Nordic Walking associations provide services of coaches for initiation and trainings. Such association organise walking tours in and around Paris (and other places) during weekends.



Nordic Walking


Anyone can practice Nordic Walking irrespective of their age and general health. A dynamic form of walking, it makes the cardio-vascular and pulmonary system work more. More than 90% of the muscles are at work and are well oxygenated with this kind of walking. It straightens the back thereby allows less pressure on the lower back and tones up the body. 


It allows you to spend more than 40% more energy than regular walking. The poles reduce the pressure on the heels, the sides and the lower back by 30%. Some of the benefits that Nordic Walking is supposed to impart is an increase in overall stamina, more energy (read calorie) consumption while walking, greater ease in uphill climbing etc. 


Nordic Walking Poles are the only equipment you need. While they are designed on the same lines as the ones used for cross-country skiing, they are much shorter. There are one-piece, retractable two or three-piece telescopic versions available in the market. While there may be a choice available for poles, it is imperative to select the right type of pole in order to derive the maximum benefit. The retractable poles are said to be more fragile than the one piece poles. Ditto for the poles in aluminium which are supposed to be less durable compared to the fibre glass or carbon poles. The latter, in addition to being light weight also afford more shock absorption. They are costlier compared to the classic aluminium poles, but it may just be worth the price.

The general formula for selecting the length of the pole is 0.68 x Height of the person (in cms). Adjust the result to lower decimal value. The poles could cost €40-€110 depending on the quality and brand available at Sports stores.

In addition to good poles, having good walking shoes is a must for such walking. Drinking water periodically for treks is also useful to keep the body hydrated.

Some useful addresses for more on Nordic Walking in Paris & Ile-de-France:


Fédération Française de Athlétisme

Organising the Nordic Walking Day on June 20th, 2009, the association has participated in various sportive events to promote the sports. It has licensed CAS (coach for athletic sports) to help initiate you to Nordic walking. 
Get details


La FĂ©deration de Nordic Walking

A website in French dedicated to the practice of Nordic walking with a list of contacts for organising treks and training in and around Paris (and other places).
Get details


Nordic Walking Evasion

Information about NW and list of contacts for treks. In the Region Parisien, the treks are organised at 75 (Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes), 78 (Viroflay, Fausses Reposes), 77 (Fontainebleau) etc. Initiation course cost €10, later €15/ course.
Get details


Randonneurs Ile de France

An association for trekkers of île-de-France, though not dedicated to Nordic walking alone, it does provide information on such treks on a regular basis. Its 'Nordic Walking' arm has information about training, technique, blogs etc.
Get details


Blog of Christophe Pees

A nice little blog about various Nordic walking treks around Clamart and Vincennes.
Get details


Marche Nordique

Blog in French giving information on all aspects of Nordic Walking including technical details and instructor's addresses for different locations.
Get details



Photo Credit:

S.Kempinaire/DPPI. courtesy FFA