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Preserving physical and mental health with urban poling

Have you tried walking with poles? It's a hit with those who have, and is great for physical and mental health.
Owner of Active by Nature Canmore, Mandy Johnson, enjoys walking through the great outdoors with husband, Colin Johnson. Photo: Edmonton Seniors Cooordinating Council

Preserving mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health during the pandemic. Even though staying at home is the recommended way to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19, we know that it can be stressful and isolating.

If you’re not opposed to bundling up, “urban poling” provides a unique form of walking--assisted by hiking poles--to provide a full body workout. 

There are two styles of poles to choose from--fitness poles for those seeking to elevate their walking regimen, and rehabilitative poles for those with mobility challenges who require additional balance and support. The 'boots' on the poles are removable and have spikes underneath to help navigate rough terrain. For additional traction, consider outfitting your footwear with 'crampons' (removable snow cleats). These products are available online and at many local retailers. Visit to learn which gear is right for you. 

Walking outdoors is a low-risk method of promoting both physical and mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, benefits of urban poling include: calorie-burning, improved balance and stability, stronger back muscles, improved posture and reduced arthritis symptoms.

The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) offers a walking program that is growing in popularity. You can find a community walking group at 

Don’t see your league listed? Start your own group with friends and neighbours! Kim Mah, EFCL's Seniors Program Walking Advisor, can provide information on how to get started and the best gear to buy. While many walking groups are on hold due to COVID-19, Kim can advise by phone or email. is another great resource providing training videos and online courses.

As Mah explains, urban poling is great for both fitness newbies and those looking to round out their exercise regimen.

"I have a fella--an avid golfer who works out at the gym three times a week. When he couldn't go the gym because of COVID, he came by with his wife to try out poling. 'I love this,' he said. 'It's perfect for between gym workouts. It will even help my golf swing!"

Mandy Johnson, owner of Active by Nature Canmore agrees. “Nordic walking turns a walk into a turbo-charged total-body workout. Why just go for a walk when you can walk with urban poles, have much greater stability on snow and ice, plus work out your arms, shoulders, chest, stomach and back muscles?” 

Urban poling is just one example of a low-risk activity that may help support mental health during the pandemic. Visit for more information. 

To connect with Kim Mah about urban poling, email [email protected], or call 780-217-2087.

Article courtesy of Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council