Are poles the wave of the future for walking?

Tom Rutlin says using poles is the best wayt to get a walking workout  Credit: Exerstrider
Have you ever gotten a letter thats so packed with information that you fear reading it may cause your brain to explode? Well, about every six months I get that kind of letter, about five pages long, from Tom Rutlin.

A walking evangelist of the highest order, Rutlin not only wants everyone to walk, he wants them to make it the most efficient workout possible. To do that, hes convinced, we should all be walking with poles.

A cross-country ski instructor, Rutlin saw the benefits of ski poles and developed his own version for walking (called Exerstriders). To confirm his convictions, he has sponsored research into poles effectiveness they can increase the calories you burn by 30 percent to 40 percent and reduce the impact on your legs.

But these benefits wont come without good technique which is why Rutlin spends more time teaching than selling. Drag the poles along or place them daintily alongside you, and youre wasting your time. Instead, plant them lightly with your arm extended and push forcefully back with each stride. You get an upper-body workout, and youre a calorie inferno.

As a racewalker, I have been leery of any accoutrement that might slow me down. But the data on poles speaks for itself, and even I admit that high-speed walking takes technique and determination. So if youre looking to intensify your walks, especially if speeding up doesnt seem to do it for you, give walking poles a try.

And if you want to learn Rutlins technique, give him a call. Dont worry you dont like reading, hes got a video, too.

Pole purveyors:

Exerstrider, (800) 554-0989,
Leki, (800) 255-9982,
Nordic Walker, (877) 548-7234,

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