Muscling Up With Walking Sticks

You've seen cross-country skiers using poles to push themselves up hills and across flat expanses of snow. Lately, hikers have taken to using similar poles for long walks up and down various grades. Scientists from the American College of Sports Medicine wanted to measure the effect these poles had on upper and lower body muscle groups, so they recruited 11 volunteers and had them hike 3 kilometers, with and without poles, at a 20% incline. They found that using a pair of hiking poles can increase arm muscle involvement by as much as 95% while taking around 15% of the work away from your legs.

The Bigger Picture: Using a set of hiking poles can help increase your stability while reducing stress on your feet, legs, knees and back. It's also a great way to get some extra arm work in when doing long-distance, low impact cardio. Give it a try to see how a pair of poles works with your treks through the park or woods.
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