Nordic walking: walking off the fat

Nordic walking uses 20% more energy than normal walking. The intensity of the exercise means that the primary energy source for this activity is fat.  

Here’s the scientific evidence for the benefits Nordic walking brings to fat-burning and some killer facts about fat, cholesterol and exercise.

Why is Nordic walking a fat muncher?

  • Whilst Nordic walking you are using more muscles compared to normal walking. In addition to using your big leg and butt muscles (the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves) you are also using your upper body muscles (upper and lower back, triceps, biceps, deltoids, shoulder, lats, neck and obliques) to energetically propel yourself forward and to swing your shoulders and rotate your torso. With the right technique you will be using 90% of your muscles.
  • Nordic walking is genius because this all-body work-out has been proven to feel easier as the workload is spread across all of your muscles. So you can exercise harder, go for longer and actually enjoy it – which means that you’ll stick with it.
  • Because of the exercise intensity of a Nordic walk you’ll be using the body’s energy system that burns predominantly fat – more of that in another blog.

The proof.

A recent study of 168 pre-, peri- and post-menopausal women showed that after 12 weeks of Nordic walking there were significant:

  • decreases in Body Mass Index, total fat mass, low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides and waist circumference and
  • increases in high-density lipoproteins.

Below we share a simple guide to explain why these findings are awesome if you want to lose some excess baggage as well as protect yourself against illness.

Here’s a quick re-cap on fat and cholesterol to help our understanding of why these Nordic walking results are fab.

KILLER FACTS for FAT, CHOLESTEROL and the benefits of Nordic walking.

  • There are two types of fatty molecule that can be found in our bodies the triglycerides from the food that we eat and the cholesterol that our bodies make (we can eat it too, particularly if we eat red meat).
  • We make cholesterol because we need it for many of our body’s functions.  We can’t use cholesterol for energy though. We need triglycerides from our food  to help our bodies undertake important tasks and we can use them to make energy.
  • There are two main lipoproteins  used for transporting fatty molecules. The low-density lipoproteins (LDL) transport cholesterol and triglycerides to all cells of the body. With more fat in your diet the more LDL’s you have in your blood. When cells need the fat they take up the LDL’s. When they have got what they need and fat intake remains high in the diet the LDL’s start to build up in the blood and settle on the artery walls forming plaques, then atherosclerosis which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Excess triglycerides are sent for storage under the skin and around our body’s organs – so we get fat.
  • But there are the good guys, the high density lipoproteins (HDL). These are on patrol in your bloodstream and pick up any stray cholesterol and help us fight heart disease and stroke.
  • Absolute levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood are important to know but what really matters is the ratio of LDL to HDL in your blood. You are doing OK if you have a 3:1 ratio of LDL:HDL.
  • An exercising person can have a ratio can as good as 1:1 as their fitter body is more efficient at burning fat. Check it out.
  • The exercise intensity of Nordic walking means that the body looks to fat as the main source of energy used to fuel your walk.


Written by: Lisa Drewe on 27 Mar 2015, 12:16 PM



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