Category Archives: Media

Still More from the Department of Misinformation

It’s been more than a month since I noticed a couple of inaccurate articles about Nordic Walking (see my April 19 and 20 posts) or spotted CNN’s misinforming report (see May 15 post). I don’t mean to be persnickety for its own sake, but I see these erroneous reports as misleading new Nordic Walkers, who then put misiniformation into action.

My most recent find was an introductory article to Nordic Walking on that included the following paragraph: “Walk naturally with opposite arm and leg forward. Drag and plant the poles as you walk. Don’t think about it too much or you’ll mess up.” The report by Jessica Peralta was posted originally on an Orange County, CA, site called SQUEEZEOC, was picked up all the way across the country in northern New Jersey. It isn’t correct on either coast.
The report did not indicate that some instructors tell newbies to drag their poles only for a few steps in the beginning learning to actually use the poles. Nowhere did the article mention where the poles are to be planted in relation to the feet. Nowhere did it discuss the backswing, the open hand or even pole length, the most basic of basic info. Peralta did comment, “The most difficult part of the exercise is getting the straps on — they strap over your hands in a specific way.”

This is yet another example of why it’s good to take a class or workshop, preferably from a certified Nordid Walking instructor but at the very least from a fitness professional who has also been trained by a pole company to teach the basics of Nordic Walking.

Nordic Walking on YouTube

Watch a short new video called “Activity Breaks: Nordic Walking in Austria” on YouTube. The group includes Brits (the narrator and his buddy seem to be swimmers) as they stride through the beautiful countryside around Gerlos, Austria, with an instructor named Thomas. This beginner class was going out for 5 or 6 kilometers — not to shabby for a start. And if you really need a Nordic Walking film fix, that page also offers links to other Nordic Walking videos.

CNN "Discovers" Nordic Walking

  • Millions of people who knew nothing about Nordic Walking will at least aware of the concept, thanks to a CNN snippet on our favorite fitness activity. Too bad the news network didn’t really get it right. I’m glad they covered Nordic Walking, but I wish that the report were actually more accurate. In a story called “To Pick Up Your Pace, Pick Up a Pole,” CNN and its medical correspondent Judy Fortin spouted a host of inaccuracies, half-truths and misleading comments — and the camera focused on some poor excuses for Nordic Walking technique. The mistakes in the CNN/ coverage of Nordic Walking include:
  • For openers, the title is misleading. Picking up “a pole” isn’t anything like Nordic Walking. “To Pick Up Your Pace, Pick Up a Pair of Poles” would have been alliterative too — and also accurate.
  • The report says that walking with poles burns 400 calories an hour compared with 350 without poles. The numbers usually given are that Nordic Walking, using proper technique, burns approximately 40 percent more calories than walking at a comparable speed without poles. The American Nordic Walking Association gives this as 400 calories per hour with poles, compared with 280 calories per hour without poles.
  • The story claims, “The technique involves leaning slightly forward, taking long strides and oving heel to toe while keeping a relaxed grip on the poles.” All I can say is, “not exactly” because the important arm/poling motion is not mentioned.
  • The click-to video clip from the web page shows a pretty pathetic class, including one woman who is clearly dragging her poles behind her on the ground, one who straight-arms her pole during the forward motion and also opens her hands during the pole plant, and one who keeps planting her poles in front of her. Any viewers paying attention will be misled by the little video. Committed Nordic Walkers and especially instructors will cringe.
  • Fortin asserts that Nordic Walking was invented in Finland “over a hundred years ago.” Perhaps she’s on some time travel itinerary that has eluded the rest of us, because it was introduced in Finland in 1997. But hey, what’s 90 years or more between accuracy and its absence?
  • The opening page for the web story on used the word “skiiers.” It’s skiers — one I — which indicates to me that no one is proofreading what puts on-line.

Still, despite such journalistic sloppiness, I am happy that CNN and have brought attention to Nordic Walking. But then, in a wider context, if they can screw up so much in one little report on a relatively straightforward topic, I wonder whether they make similar mistakes with news reports that are really more crucial to the world.

Notes from the Dept. of Misinisformation

According to a report in the Turkish Daily News, “Nordic walking became widely popular first in Finland and spread around the world rapidly. The interest shown was tremendous! In Germany alone, a million people prefer this form of exercise. However, we cannot say the same for Turkey. Nevertheless, it is possible to see a few people walking with modified ski poles here and there especially in coastal areas. The number of Nordic walkers is estimated to have increased in Turkey as well.”

MY COMMENT: Those Nordic Walkers along the coast at are probably visiting Germans. And if so, they aren’t using “modified ski poles,” even though the brands are familiar to anyone who knows about ski eqipment.

“All you need to exercise is a pair of ski poles, but in reality any stick will do. Nordic walking is a total body workout. Initially you should start without poles. However, make sure to remember that if you are walking with a pair of poles, you burn twice as many calories than normal and that means you are burning body fat.”

MY COMMENT: Any pair of ski poles? Not exactly. Any stick will do? Any one single stick? Not at all. Start without poles? You certainly can “start” without poles, but then it’s not Nordic Walking, is it?

“For a good start, try walking uphill and use your poles vigorously and try not to put pressure on your knees when walking downhill. Spread the load through your legs. Be sure to take time to perform stretches involving all the main muscle groups so that you will get the most out of Nordic walking.”

MY COMMENT: Start uphill, using your poles vigorously? How about starting on the flat and learning to place your poles correctly with each step before getting all vigorous and heading uphill?

MY FINAL COMMENT: Giving this report the benefit of the doubt, I supposed it is possible that a lot was lost in the translaton, but if not, anyone reading it in the original has a great misconception of just the basics.

Wall Street Journal "Discovers" Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking just drew the attention – and the cachet — of an article in the Wall Street Journal. I can’t quote more than the on-line teaser without violating the paper’s copyright, but here’s how it began. The full version is available on-line only to subscribers:

New Exercise Targets The Less-Than-Fit
By Joseph Pereira
Word Count: 1,319 Companies Featured in This Article: Adidas

Donna Mirabile says she gets puzzled looks from her students whenever she leads a fitness class. And she says she knows exactly what they’re thinking: “You’re going to teach me about fitness? Yeah, right!”

Ms. Mirabile weighs 340 pounds.

She’s part of a marketing experiment involving an exercise called “Nordic walking.” Unlike exercise routines like spinning, Pilates and Tae Bo, Nordic walking isn’t specifically aimed at health-club aficionados, who pride themselves on being fit-and-trim types. The companies behind Nordic walking are giving their outreach efforts a twist: They’re targeting couch potatoes and other nonathletic types, including the overweight and feeble.

Nordic Walking in London

Seven million Europeans reportedly have taken up Nordic Walking, and the sport is now being promoted across the English Channel and the North Sea as well. The authoritative BBC just reported that some 200 prospective partiticants showed up at London’s Hyde Park this past Sunday to give it a try — or, as the Brits would probably say, to give it a go. It was noted on a blog called The Londonist, which titled its posting, “No, I Haven’t Lost My Skis,” observing “So, if you do see sporty types looking like they got lost on the way to the dry ski slope, but are gamely skiing without their skis over zebra crossings and through foot tunnels regardless, it’s Nordic walking, it’s a real sport and it’s in London.” The BBC noted that organizers, who arranged free coaching by Nordic Walking pros, are hoping to recruit 30,000 Nordic Walkers within a year. There are already several Nordic Walking clubs, blogs and websites in the UK. Perhaps the BBC and The Londonist just noticed.