Nordic walking

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007 at the age of 42. Now, I want to share how Nordic walking has helped me get stronger and have more flexibility.

Sportline XC550 Total fitness walking poles

During my last years in the army, around 2014, I picked up a set of walking poles to add Nordic walking to my workout routine in preparation for the annual army physical fitness test (APFT). I stumbled over these Sportline XC550 Total fitness walking poles at a garage sale. I thought these poles might help me increase my fitness level. Since the price was only $2 I thought I‘d give them a try; what did I have to lose?

As it would turn out I tried to use the walking poles just once and got so frustrated with them I put them away. I had too much difficulty trying to maintain my coordination. They didn’t feel right, and I didn’t think I was getting any benefit from them.

Since my retirement from the army, my wife and I began to travel and we realized how much we enjoyed hiking on our holiday trips. During one trip to Sedona, Arizona, I injured my knee while hiking. That injury made it impossible for me to hike anymore. So I saw a physical therapist and she gave me some stretching and strengthening exercises to do for rehabilitation. However, because I didn’t like doing the stretches and exercises she prescribed me I knew needed an alternative.

Fast forward to summer 2020, the year of the COVID-19. I stumbled across my old walking poles again. Since my regular walking routine was growing stale and I still had the soreness in my knee I decided to pull out the walking sticks again and give them another try. I thought they might spice up my walking program and take some pressure off my aching knee.

At the same time, I began to do research on YouTube for videos on pole walking and stumbled across Exerstrider by Tom Rutlin. I didn’t purchase any of the Exerstrider equipment, but I did look at Tom’s instructional videos and found them extremely helpful in teaching me the proper techniques to Nordic walk or pole walk.

Not only did Exerstrider teach me to Nordic walk properly it also taught me stretching techniques using the walking poles.  This was a game changer for me. Stretching with the walking poles has helped me more than the exercises prescribed to me from the physical therapist or anything else I’ve tried. I now feel more limber, have freedom of movement, and reduced ache from the muscle tension and rigidity associated with Parkinson’s. What’s more is since I started Nordic walking I have more strength and energy than I did before. I have also lost 10 pounds and do now 25 push-ups daily.

I’ve attached the links to the Exerstrider videos that have helped me so much. I hope they help you as much as they did me.  Thanks Tom!


2 thoughts on “Nordic walking

  1. Hey cool, John! I have seen people use various poles as I have been out walking over the past few months since I got my car. Do you still have those old poles from the garage sale? 😉 I haven’t used any kind of assist since I used a cane regularly about five years ago or so (when I had much more pain). But last Friday I went to Peoria to walk at a nature preserve there, and the cane did help with some of the steeper steps, so I was happy. I had also met a really nice younger gal at the Sugar Grove preserve just a few miles south of BNormal. We are just friends and walking buddies now.

    I was just thinking of you earlier because I have been listening to girl groups from the 60s and I saw your wife, Mary Wilson – 😉.

    Good to see you’re writing and cookin’ along!



    1. I Tim. It’s nice to hear from you. I just found your post. I don’t check this site often enough. I’m glad to hear you’re getting along well. Hope your new car is running well. By the way, I started a new web site “” It’s just a place for me to post random thoughts. Take good care.


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