Saskatoon and Region

Urban Poling

By Kimberly Willison, Senior Recreation Therapist
Community Older Adult, Forever…in motion

As we enjoy summer, it is on all of our minds to get out, get some fresh air and start walking.  If you have ever considered walking with poles I urge you to give this amazing trend a try.  Here are some benefits of Urban Poling:

  • Urban Poling combines the aerobic and strength building benefits of cross country skiing with the lower body technique of regular walking
  • Why just walk when you can Urban Pole?  By adding poles you turn a walk into a full body workout using 90% of the body’s muscles
  • Walking with poles has been popular in Scandinavian countries for years and is becoming more popular in North America as people become aware of the health benefits
  • It is a great activity because it can be performed by people of all ages and almost all fitness levels.  It is a safe, effective, low impact, and an inexpensive way to exercise
  • Urban Poling can be done almost anywhere…sidewalks, parks, hiking trails and indoor tracks
  • The poles provide promote a more normal step pattern as well as additional balance and stability thereby increasing confidence during walking
  • Walking with Urban Poles is a low impact activity reducing the stress on the back, hips, and knees.  Using poles for walking has a significant effect in terms of exercise tolerance, perceived functional independence and quality of life

Urban Poling increases both caloric expenditure and oxygen consumptions, or how hard you work, by 20 to 46%.  The use of walking poles enables participants to walk at a faster speed with reduced impact on our hip and knee joints.  Urban Poling is very effective for core strengthening, upper body strengthening as well as improving posture.

Important to remember for technique:

  • Remember to keep your shoulders back and to look to the horizon, not down.  This will ensure that you have good posture
  • If you can pull your belly button in towards your spine you are engaging your core and will see some improvement in your midsection

What to consider when purchasing poles:

  • Avoid wrist straps (as you are more likely to cause a wrist fracture or thumb dislocation if you fall) 
  • That they are height adjustable 
  • Telescoping shafts with locking mechanisms to make sure that they remain stable when you put weight on them
  • Spring-loaded shaft to reduce the impact on the elbows
  • Always buy poles in pairs

The most important aspect of Urban Poling is that you enjoy yourself while you exercise.  Eventually the technique will fall into place and you will feel more confident and efficient.

The best way to learn is to give it a try.  The City of Saskatoon offers indoor and outdoor classes on “Learn to Urban Pole” in which they provide the poles and instruction as to how to use them (Aug 13 - 22).  Contact the City of Saskatoon at 306-975-3354 for more information on these classes.

For more information on Urban Poling or about the Forever…in motion program you can contact Kimberly Willison @ 655-2286 or