Apr 4, 2006 at 7:22 pm #1218229
This is a site known for facts and not dogma or simply opinions. So, with an open but skeptical mind, can any of you with science backgrounds tell us if hiking poles are “energy savers” and the pacer poles more so?
IMHO, having some physics but definitely not an expert, it seems to me that poles take energy and do not give it back. They are extra weight and work= force x distance. They require use of arms which are far less effective than legs.
For balance, and less energy spent balancing in some situations, OK I can see some savings.
Show us what the whole picture is here. Is it possible that the PP thing is mostly psuedoscience?Apr 4, 2006 at 7:40 pm #1354121
@mlarsonLocale: Southeast USA
I’d love to see some good, hard science on this issue. Ergonomics of Pacer Poles aside, I can understand an increased calorie burn using any poles v. no arm movement at all. I can also understand the ergo advantage of PPs on a small scale, creating less strain and small-muscle fatigue. Whether the energy transfer is that much greater… I haven’t a clue.
Using any poles, maybe the overall calorie/work ratio is better, especially at lower pole weights? Maybe poles let your legs work at a lesser % of capacity [cooler? more efficient?] over the long haul.
I know what my gut instinct says, having used poles and gone pole-less. But there’s lots of scientific fog for me in this area… comments from the wiser ones?
-MarkApr 4, 2006 at 8:14 pm #1354124
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
Energy transfer aside, the knee is arguably one of the worst-designed components of the human body. We bipeds are simply not using it right: it’s not supposed to be straightened out all the time, and it’s not supposed to be bearing our entire weight under stress and impact for 16 hours a day…for 75 years! Ask many athletes, many overweight people, many runners, and also some traditional backpackers: a lot of those who stress their entire bodies will lose their knees earlier than other things.
In the simple sense, having a pole to support some weight during impact and to stabilize you to some extent during torsion can mean less force on the knees.
In the larger sense, some would argue that the constant use of support poles will be nullified by the resulting change in hiking form: stabilizing muscles become less developed because they’re less used, foot placement can become less careful, and even balance can be less honed.
I’ve never used poles of any kind in my life, but only because I can’t afford them so it’s never been a question!
BrianApr 4, 2006 at 8:21 pm #1354125
From my perspective, the number of calories burned is not the main issue. The main issue is do trekking poles allow us to hike further, easier and/or with less fatigue. The thing that usually ends my hike from a fatigue standpoint is tired legs. Trekking poles take a lot of stress off your legs, especially on uphills and downhills. Thus, regardless of whether or not you’ve burned a (probably insignificant) few extra calories, you can go further with less effort.
Also, I like to think of poles as negative weight. Although they have some weight, they also support your arms and part of your upper body as you hike. The weight the support far exceeds their own weight. So although it does involve some extra exertion from your arms, it takes a lot off your legs.
Personally, I like to hike with one pole so my other hand is unencumbered when I need it. Poles also have numerous other benefits, for tarp setup, stream crossing, balance, etc. Highly recommended. Hope this helps.Apr 4, 2006 at 9:50 pm #1354131
A Lee Deavers jrMember
I have one bad knee and am desperate to backpack; I hope that the poles are going to enable me to do this. I tried backpacking (39 lbs pack) without poles this past weekend on the “Foothills Trail” in SC, I went 6.1 miles before my knee froze on me.
I am going to watch these posts before I buy.
LeeApr 4, 2006 at 11:11 pm #1354139
The poles might help with your knee, a lighter pack might help as well.
It is possible to go out for several days and carry much less weight and still be comfortable, safe and eat pretty well.
TomApr 4, 2006 at 11:42 pm #1354140
Second what Travis said. If you are seriously interested in enjoying backpacking–think about being comfortable and carrying 12-15lbs. total gear–(yes I know you can go lighter–but from 39 to 15 is a big jump–and mu guess is once you start in that direction well we all know what kind of happens)
You can be as comfortable with that weight as you can with the 39 lbs. of gear! Well okay maybe your tent won’t be quite so big.
this is the best site to learn what gear might work for you to go lighter!Apr 5, 2006 at 4:39 am #1354143
Jim ColtenBPL Member
I know several folks with chronic knee problems who tell me that poles help them a lot. Unfortunately I don’t know the details of their problems so we don’t know if their experience applies to you or not.
It’s also very likely that a lighter pack will help … but b4 investing in replacement gear you probably should see how your knee reacts to consecutive days of long day hikes with little or no pack weight.Apr 5, 2006 at 6:08 am #1354147
In NO WAY is my post intended as anti-pole use. There are many reasons we use them, balance, injury prevention, injury relief, personal taste, and if PP makes this more enjoyable etc. I am all for it. As a guide of 25 years I value individual differences and am anti-dogma in all its forms, the most basic being a personal bias that everyone must do things one way, their way.
That said, my curiosity here is ONLY calories burned and just that. I look here of learning about debunking myths and ALSO learning some things have more value than we thought.
BIG CLAIMS are made about pole use in terms of energy savings. Would some people keep using them if they found that it makes inefficient bi-peds even MORE inefficient? Don’t know, but I just would love to know what that scientifically do, add or subtract.
Some poles are now so light they don’t add much weight at all, pretty amazing. Certainly as an ex-XC ski racer and tourer poles are an amazing necessity. But for hiking and energy expenditure I truly wonder if we are not being sold snake oil.
Still hoping for a few engineers, hey BPL staff, weigh in here OK???Apr 5, 2006 at 8:51 am #1354160
Yes, the use of poles burns more calories but not in a significant amount for me to stop using them.
The claims of energy savings relates only to ones legs but in reality it isn’t a savings so much as a transference of work from ones legs to the upper body.
How many miles can you walk without your pack before your knee gives you problems?
RobertApr 5, 2006 at 10:31 am #1354168
I tried poles for my first time a week ago. It was a two day, two night trip over up and down terrain.
I found that when I was full of energy, the poles seemed like a waste of energy. When I started getting fatigued, they definitely helped. And when my legs started cramping up, because of being over-ambitious, they were a godsend.
I’m still divided about them. I used them for my shelter, which made them dual purpose… but I would have rather been in better shape and less ambitious, rather than <needing> them.
I think the more rigorous the trail, the more applicable they are?Apr 5, 2006 at 12:50 pm #1354178
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
This is just a guess, but is it even possible to theorize calorie consumption (poles vs. no poles) uniformly across all individuals and for every situation? People’s strides vary as does the terrain they walk on. Since there may not be a scientist among us who is capable or willing to make a hard statement regarding your query, my assumption would be that while walking on flat, solid-footing trail, you would have to be burning more calories if you are holding poles upright and moving them with your cadance. I don’t know about you, but I am not able to put weight on my poles when moving along a flat area…I would have to lean over…or slow down from my normal pace. Since they are not contributing to my forward movement, they are burning inefficient calories. When going up or down a hill, I could see there being a shared calorie consumption there (avoiding extra calorie consumption as the poles are actually mitigating some of the leg work). But the net of it all, at the end of a day of hiking varied terrain, with flat surfaces, I think you would have to be less efficient from a calorie standpoint while using poles.
While you take a scientific approach to the question in an admirable effort to avoid dogma regarding pole efficiency, I think this would be one of the last factors that would weigh in on my decision to use or not use them. It’s kind of getting to the point of drafting a spreadsheet on how many calories you burn for each extra gram you haul on your back. At some point you have to decide based on qualitative observations that you either like/want to use items or not.Apr 5, 2006 at 1:03 pm #1354180
Benjamin SmithBPL Member
@bugbombLocale: South Texas
Given that certain levels of effort (I’m not sure what they are) are more calorie-efficient than others, it would seem that poles could be used to maintain a calorie-efficient pace by allowing a larger number of muscles (upper and lower body) to be in that sweet spot, as opposed to over-exerting the leg muscles. I could be wrong – it may be that it all evens out, or, as the previous poster suggests, the additional weight of the poles results in greater calorie consumption overall.
That said, I’m not a big pole user, but it’s just because I like my hands free for various reasons.
BenApr 5, 2006 at 1:53 pm #1354185
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
I’ll opine that except when walking on surfaces where traction is a problem, there’s no energy benefit from using poles. Instead, there’s some small loss due to carrying the extra weight and to the effort required to swing the poles. This last is borne out by the big difference in energy expended between heavier and lighter poles.
My experience is that their use does stave of leg fatigue and in my case, probably extends my daily range. There’s no doubt they help steady and propel me along loose, rocky trails (a Sierra specialty), on stream crossings, on snow, etc.
I’m curious whether their use might perhaps help correct posture and stride deficiencies and perhaps provide some measurable benefit. We’ve read that loads carried on the head take little or no extra energy compared with walking loadless; can poles provide a similar benefit?
Finally, there’s no question that they help stave off long-distance-hiker stick arms :-)Apr 5, 2006 at 1:54 pm #1354186
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
No free lunch with energy– unless you get someone else to haul the load– and that has hooks too :)
Just the weight of the poles throws the energy issue off. Weight moved means calories are burned. We can improve a system by removing sources of friction( adding ball bearings) and making parts of the system as light as is practical (what BPL is all about).
I have no doubt that I burn more calories when I use poles as I am using my upper body muscles as well as my legs. That takes stress off my legs and adds it to my upper body.
The question to ask is whether the extra weight and muscle use is worth it. I think so, but more in terms of safety and stability. I find poles most valuable with steep rocky, rooted trails, streams and hopping over a muddy spot.
Going down a section of trail that is basically a root ladder always left me with the feeling that I was going to do a face plant in the rocks, with the pack to follow. Having a pack that is now half or less of what I used to carry helps a lot, but I’m not gettin’ any younger either (I was 52 last Sunday). Going up, I am able to use my upper body strength to help push up large steps and tangles of roots and rocks. I don’t feel like I am tottering around with the load and I haven’t turned an ankle since using poles.
My wife has a bad knee and really takes off when using poles. She would normally have some swelling after a decent walk and has little or no trouble now.
Getting to use them as shelter poles is a plus, but you can buy much lighter tent poles for less money than even the less expensive poles.
It is a matter of preference, not fashion, so hike your own hike :)
And now, the trekking pole pun: the best trekking Poles are made by Czechs :)Apr 5, 2006 at 3:03 pm #1354198
This is a great discussion and being the trekking pole editor, one that I’ve often considered.
First, this is an interesting summary of research on poles used in Nordic Walking vs fitness walking without poles. http://walking.about.com/cs/poles/a/polestudy00.htm The main conclusion it makes is that you get 20% more calories burned when using the poles. Interesting stuff but it doesn’t answer some key questions:
1) How much do the poles weigh? My experience is that a 10oz pole makes me significantly more tired than a sub-3oz Gossamer Gear Lightreks
2) Did the walkers speeds increase? When using poles for propulsion my speed goes WAY up which would surely increase my heartrate
3) How much training in Nordic Walking techniques did the participants have? Nordic Walking takes some practice before becoming fluid- I’d guess that inexperience would play into energy expenditure.
My point is that the 20% sounds good for Nordic Walkers but bad for backpackers trying to conserve energy. However, there are variables that don’t seem to be taken into account in this research that would lead me to discount it heavily.
Trekking Systems EditorApr 5, 2006 at 3:32 pm #1354202
Next question brough up here is Pacer Poles. I’ve been testing these in various forms for about two years now so I may have some worthwhile qualitative (experintial) data.
First, PacerPole offers some interesting claims but doesn’t offer any true scienfic research and I don’t think any of their claims are false. The PacerPole design is very comfortable and effecient design. I use a PacerPole that is about 8cm shorter than a standard pole and using the technique, you raise your hands less highly into the air, puttin more energy into forward propulsion. It is a very fluid movement and the most natural position I’ve found in a trekking pole (and I’ve used most all of them).
That said, there are some downsides that detract from effeciency, namely weight. An aluminum PacerPole weights in at 11.1oz and the yet to be relased aluminum/carbon fiber model weighs 10.3oz. While it’s true that most of this weight is in the grip, it still weighs significantly more than many other poles on the market including the Gossamer Gear Lightrek (sub 3oz), the Bozeman Mountain Works STIX Pro (3.1 oz), Komperdell C3 (sub 6 oz), etc. While the hand position may be more effecient, my experience is that it isn’t enough to offset the weight difference.
Further, in practice, the difference in hand position between a PacerPole and a standard pole is mainly one of height from the ground. Take the image on this page, for example, (http://www.pacerpole.com/pacerpole-user-guide-basic-guide_1.html) and imagine extending the arm about 10cm higher; this is essentially what you do when using “trekking poles” for propulsion. Now the wrist may be slightly more cocked, but not much.
I’ve often taking multiple poles out on group trips and traded around. The consensus is always that the PacerPoles are SO comfortable and definitely preferred over poles in a similar weight range. However, when putting a truly ultralight pole (less than 7 oz) in a hiker’s hand, they instantly prefer the lighter pole and feel that they are much less tiring to use.
So here’s my take:
If you’re considering PacerPoles or similar weight Leki Makalu poles, I’d take the PacerPoles every time. But if I had the choice of an ultralight pole, I’d take that over the PacerPoles- you lift a pole far so many times over the period of the day that less weight must have the effeciency advantage.
The ultimate would be a 5-6oz PacerPole, but I don’t think this is possible when the grips weigh 4.6 oz on their own.
Doug Johnson, Trekking Systems EditorApr 5, 2006 at 3:46 pm #1354204
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
I’ve seen this 20% figure used when speaking of so-called “Power Walking”. In those cases, typically, 1-2lb weights are held in each hand and swung (somewhat balistically = not proper form) upwards, often up to shoulder height with extended or partially extended arms parallel to the ground. This had the benefit of lifting the hands and at least a small portion of the arms (if not the entire fully extended arm) above the level of the heart, resulting also in an slight elevation in heart rate and intensity of contraction to pump some extra blood up above the level of the heart. I believe that this is a key to the 20% figure regarding calories burned.
The swing of trekking poles does not lift the hands anywhere near shoulder height. I’m wondering if that figure of 20% mentioned in a prev. post is really the result of research specific to trekking poles or just “parroting” the 20% power-walking figure, thinking that it exactly applies with trekking poles also.
Any thoughts anyone? Anyone have hard and fast research on this 20% figure and trekking poles? Or, is it just a statistical carry over from another form of exercise?
EDIT: Ok. Looked at the link. Cooper Institute-good place. Have a friend who works there as an Exercise Physiologist. However, take a look at both of the pics. The fellow is obviously using overly long poles, IMHO. I don’t personally know of anyone who uses poles so long that the arms have to be fully extended or the hands at shoulder height to be used. So, now, I agree with the 20% since these longer poles are probably close to 16oz each (maybe??? just guessing, but my BD Flicklocks are 11oz each) and they are being lifted (and some of the arm) at or above heart level, thus increasing heart rate due to increased oxygen requirements for producing more energy due to increased energy requirements of this style. Please, someone shoot me, if I ever use poles this long requiring such exaggerated arm movements. Now, if you just want to increase the intensity of your workout using poles like this, then go for it. But it’s not the most efficient way to employ trekking poles. My two cents. Let me know if you feel I’ve erred in my assessment.Apr 5, 2006 at 3:51 pm #1354205
This is the last of my 3 posts on the topic and I hope to get to the point of Bernard’s post here- Are Trekking Poles more effecient.
First of all, I have no hard science here- only 3 years of quanitative research and field experience with 20+ different trekking poles.
I started out being a non-pole hiker. I first stole my wife’s in Canyonlands National Park for a speed walk up a wash and have never hiked without them again.
Poles can be used in two ways which I will call “trekking pole style” and “Nordic Walking style”. The first is why poles were first used in non-snow conditions: climbers with heavy packs found they helped balance the load and took some weight off the knees. Many of the posts in this thread point to this style- the poles take some weight off, help with balance, and absorb some shock on steep descents. In this arena, I see poles as using slightly more energy but adding to wellness (read decreased injuries), help the legs feel less exhausted, and increase safety and enjoyment. But these would surely come at an increase in caloric expenditure.
Second is the Nordic Walking technique. In this arena, the poles are not perpindicular to the ground but are angled sharply back, more like Nordic Ski poles are used. Here, the poles are used primarily for propulsion- forward movement. In this area the poles become tools to utilize the upper body for extra traction, drive, and speed.
This is why I use poles today. Using my wife’s poles in that sandy wash, I was able to maintain forward momentum with less loss of traction. It was a major breakthrough in my hiking.
Today, I lay down serious mileage- often 40+ mile days over significant elevation changes. I’ll often average close to 4mph walking-only. I can tell you that for me, I don’t think this would be possible without poles. They keep me moving all day and help me to power both the flats and the hills. Even when out for a mild stroll I use them- I feel like a slug without poles in my hands.
Now, is this a more effecient use of my calories? Do I have to eat more food when using my poles? Maybe. But I’m capable of things I wouldn’t be without poles.
Buy a light set of poles and I highly doubt that you’ll ever look back, whether you want safety and enjoyment, speed, or both.
Thanks for the great discussion everyone!
Trekking Systems EditorApr 5, 2006 at 3:56 pm #1354207
Paul- that article I referred to is about Nordic Walking-not hand weights. Take a look at the link:
Great to see you in a forum chat again Paul- you’re EVERYWHERE in these discussions! Great to see you so actively involved.
Have a good one!
DougApr 5, 2006 at 4:00 pm #1354208
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Doug, take a look at my EDIT in my prev. post. Our post/edit crossed in the ether.Apr 5, 2006 at 4:35 pm #1354212
From personal experience I have difficulty with the 20% quoted. It seems high to me. That being said I found this link with the relevent excerpts below:
Research on the benefits of Nordic walking
The first research results on responses to pole walking training were published in 1992 by
Stoughton, Larkin and Karavan from the University of Oregon. They studied psychological profiles
(mood states) as well as muscular and aerobic fitness responses before and after 12 weeks of pole
walking or walking training in sedentary women.
The study group consisted of eighty-six 20-50 year old women whose fitness was at moderate level.
Maximal aerobic power (Vo2Max) varied between 34-37
ml/kg/min. The study group was divided into three sub-groups. The control group did not change their
Walking with poles groups walked 30-45 minutes four times a week at an intensity corresponding to
70-85% maximum heart rate for 12 weeks. In the poles group both the walking speed and the distance
walked were slightly less than in the walking group.
In both intervention groups the maximal aerobic power and maximal treadmill time increased
significantly. These increases were eight and 19% on an average. A slight increase in maximal
ventilation occured in the poles group. Muscular strength assessed using triceps pushdown and a
modified lateral pull-down did not improve in either group.
Pole walkers showed significant improvements in depression, anger, vigor, fatigue, total mood
disturbances and total body cathexis scores. It was speculated that the pole walking group may
have felt more unique and special because of their opportunity to do a new and more enjoyable
method of walking.
Nordic walking poles were also compared to the weighted vests, ankle weights, hand and wrist
weights, weighted gloves and Powerbelts(TM) by Porcari (1999) with similar results as above. Nordic
walking increases energy expenditure when compared to regular walking
The physiological responses to walking with and without poles were studied by Hendrickson (1993) and
by Porcari et al. (1997). Hendrickson’s study group consisted of 16 fit women (VO2Max 50 ml/kg/min)
and men (59 ml/ia/kg). They walked with and without poles on a treadmill at speeds of 6-7.5 km/hr.
There were no differences in the responses between males and females.
It was found that the use of poles significantly increased oxygen uptake, heart rate and energy
expenditure by approximately 20% compared to walking without poles in fit subjects. In Porcari’s
study of 32 healthy men and women walking with poles, results were an average 23% higher oxygen
uptake, 22% higher caloric expenditure and 16% higher heart rate responses compared to walking
without poles on a treadmill. Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) values averaged 1.5 units higher with
the use of poles and the pattern of responses were similar for men and women.
Rogers et al. (1995) compared energy expenditure during submaximal walking with poles in ten 24 year
old fit women. Mean maximal aerobic power (21 vs. 18 ml/kg/min) and heart rate (133 vs. 122 bpm)
were significantly greater during walking with poles compared to walking without. Also the total
caloric expenditure in a 30 minute session was significantly greater during pole walking (74 vs. 141
kcal). In contrast, RPE did not differ significantly between the two conditions.
Laukkanen (1998, unpublished) compared heart rate during normal and fast walking speeds with an
without Exel Walker poles. Ten middle-aged men and women were studied on an indoor hall track. The
heart rate increase, measured with telemetric Polar heart rate (HR) monitors was between 5-12 bpm
and 5-17 bpm higher in men and women.
A dual-motion treadmill Cross Walk has been studied by Knox (1993), Foley(1994) and by
Butts et al. (1995). The Cross Walk Dual Motion Cross Trainer is a motorised treadmill
designed to increase the energy cost of walking by incorporating arm activity during walking,
thus increasing the muscle mass used during exercise. Knox studied thirty-seven 17-35 year
old women and they all performed six 5 minute steady-state exercises with and without arm
activity. Walking with arm activity significantly increased heart rate, ventilation, oxygen
uptake and energy expenditure compared to walking without arm activity. For example, heart
rate increased 17-31 bpm. Rating of perceived exertion as well as energy expenditure
increased by an average of 14%. In Butt’s study both the 24-year-old women and men were
studied with a similar design. In this study arm work increased energy expenditure by 55% on
an average compared to the regular walking, but only increased RPE slightly. This was
consistent with the results from Foley, who did Cross Walking in 24-year-old men. Nordic
walking helps strengthen and tone upper body muscles A Finnish study (Anettila et al. 1999)
compared pole walking with regular walking training for 12 weeks in 55 female office workers.
The EMG measurement showed that electrical activities of the muscles of the upper body, neck,
shoulder and upper back were significantly higher when walking with poles. Pole walking
training diminished neck and shoulder symptoms and subjective feelings of pain. Mobility of
the upper body increased as well. The most recent study published on Nordic walking compared
metabolic cost of Nordic walking to normal walking in twenty-two 31-year-old men and women
(Morss et al. 2001). Participants of this study walked on an outdoor 200 metre track with
Cosmed K4b for oxygen analysis and Polar Vantage heart rate monitor for HR measurements. The
study indicated significant increases in oxygen consumption (20% on average), caloric
expenditure and HR in Nordic walking compared to normal walking. The range of increase was
large, ie. oxygen consumption 5-63% indicating differences in poling intensity and technique.
Perceived exertion did not differ between the walks. The same group also compared separately
the metabolic cost of high intensity poling (Jordan et al. 2001). In high intensity poling
Nordic walking increased HR 35 bpm on average compared to regular walking. Summary Based on
research, walking with poles adds physiological strain to regular walking in both women and
men and in fit and less fit individuals. Walking with poles seems to elicit improvements with
slightly less speed. Because perceived exertion in pole walking is often less than true
physiological strain, controlling heart rate may be beneficial for those who tend to
overreach. Walking with poles improves mainly aerobic fitness, muscular endurance, deceases
neck-should area disabilities and pain, and can have positive effects on mood state. In order
to improve muscle power, uphill walking is required. Pole walking affecting body coordination
and motor fitness has not been published. Walking with poles is a safe and fun exercise mode
and fits everybody.
This research summary was written by: Raija Laukkanen Ph.D., Docent Director, Exercise Science Polar
Electro Oy Finland References Anttila, Holopainen, Jokinen. Polewalking and the effect of regular
12-week polewalking exercise on neck and shoulder symptoms, the mobility of the cervical and
thoracic spine and aerobic capacity. Final project work for the Helsinki IV College for health care
Butts, Knox, Foley. Energy cost of walking on dual-action treadmill in men and women. Med Sci Sports
Exerc 27(1), 121-125, 1995.
Foley. The effects of Cross Walk (R)’s resistive arm poles on the metabolic costs of treadmill
walking. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1994.
Hendrickson. The physiological responses to walking with an without Power PolesTM on treadmill
exercise. Thesis. University of Wisconsin-La Grosse, 1993.
REVIEW OF THE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON NORDIC WALKING Raija Laukkanen Ph.D., Docent University of
Oulu, Finland Director, Exercise Science Polar Electro Oy Kempele, Finland Board member, INWA Field
testing of physiological responses associated with Nordic Walking Subjects: 11 women and 11 men (31
yrs, VO2max 46 ml/kg/min) Methods: walking with or without Exel Nordic Walker poles 1600 m track
Measurements: HR, RPE, VO2 (Cosmed K4b2) every 200 m Results: Oxygen consumption increased in women
from 15 to 18 ml/kg/min, caloric expenditure from 4.6 to 5.4 kcal/min, HR from 114 to 119 bpm, and
in men from 13 to 16 ml/kg/min, from 5.7 to 6.9 kcal/min, HR from 102 to 110 bpm in NW compared to
regular walking. All increases statistically significant. RPE or RQ did not change. Conclusions: NW
results in significant increases in metabolic demand compared to regular walking without increasing
perceived exertion. Church et al. Res Quart Exerc Sports 73(3),296-300, 2002 Jordan et al. Med Sci
Sports Exerc 33(5), May 2001, suppl.,S86 Morss et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33(5), May 2001,
ACUTE RESPONSES TO USING WALKING POLES IN PATIENTS WITH CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE Subjects: Phase
III/IV cardiac rehabilitation patients Methods: Two 8-min walking trials with or without poles on
treadmill Results: Energy cost increased 21% , HR 14 bpm, BB 16/4 mmHg when walking with poles. No
differences in PVCs or ST-segment changes. Conclusions: Light walking poles increase intensity of
walking safely in cardiac rehabilitation patients Walter et al. J Cardiopulm Rehabil 1996Apr 5, 2006 at 5:42 pm #1354215
Ryan et al. emailed me to state their interest and intention in a future review of efficiency of pole use. Thanks folks, this would be great.
Perhaps for now, without yet reviewing all the replies and also looking for research, it might be a fair summary that even if it turned out that a 20% or even higher amount of work required over the same terrain would be justified for some folks due to various benefits attributed to the poles.
Like I said before, I am all for each person hiking in the way that works best for them. Still I look forward to knowing separate from these possible benefits, if claims of energy saving are less than true, and if more energy required just how much.
Thanks all!Apr 5, 2006 at 6:58 pm #1354221
@mlarsonLocale: Southeast USA
As PJ mentioned, the typical Nordic-walking pole height is much greater than what a typical hiker would use, and the stroke is a bit different, too. As others mentioned, as pole weight drops from 16oz to 5oz, you’ll get much better effort/work ratio. I imagine an increase in pole stiffness could have a similar effect, but I couldn’t even guess a number on that.
I thought this excerpt from Robert’s post was interesting: “Because perceived exertion in pole walking is often less than true physiological strain, controlling heart rate may be beneficial for those who tend to overreach.” Emphasis own. I’ll have to reflect and think back on that one some more, but I think that holds true for me. Maybe that’s a psychological result of spreading the work around the body.
My own experience agrees with Doug’s from a pure mileage standpoint. Poles make a tremendous difference on leg wear and fatigue, and I’m good for much longer.
-MarkApr 5, 2006 at 8:50 pm #1354232
A Lee Deavers jrMember
Robert, I don’t know how many miles I could hike without a pack. It is not until I carry weight that the knee gives me any really serious trouble. I can jog 4 miles without any trouble; I have hiked up a steep 3000 foot incline (Table Rock State Park)without a pack and didn’t have any trouble. That is the extent of my hiking.
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