According to the American Nordic Walking Association, walking with poles burns more than 40 percent more calories per hour and works more muscles than normal walking. Swedish company BungyPump believes that it can better those numbers with its unique springy poles. We call it Swedish walking ("Nordic" includes Sweden, too, but Nordic walking is a Finnish export), and it's a potential new trend for fitness nuts.
Poles used for wilderness trekking and Nordic walking are rigid in nature and provide static contact with the ground. Some poles use an anti-shock system that provides a little bit of spring action to limit the impact on the joints.
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BungyPump poles, in contrast, use an internal suspension system to provide a much more drastic motion. The smaller mid-section retracts into the upper section every time they hit the ground, providing more movement of the arms. The poles have enough travel to allow for most of the mid-section to be engulfed by the upper shaft. The user can adjust the resistance of the suspension, changing how much weight he is pressing down for different levels of workout.
A BungyPump rep that we spoke to said that its poles utilize more muscles than rigid Nordic poles, but its "90 percent of the body's muscles" claim is nearly identical to the ANWA's "up to 90 percent of your body's muscle" claim about Nordic walking. The company's assertion of burning 77 percent more calories than walking without any poles is well above the ANWA's 50 percent claim, however, and all you need to do is try or watch BungyPump to know that the arms are moving more thanks to the spring action. A study the company conducted in cooperation with Modo Sports Academy showed a calorie consumption increase of 32 percent over rigid walking poles.
In addition to increased fitness benefits, BungyPump poles are gentle on the shoulders and elbows and useful for rehabilitation purposes. While the company says that the poles help to relieve pressure on the knees and hips, just like rigid walking poles, it seems like the springiness would result in a bit less impact absorption. BungyPump believes that the poles are ideal for everything from serious athletic training to everyday fitness and weight loss.
BungyPump poles have been in use in Sweden for several years, and the company is hoping that the hardware will catch fire in other countries, similar to how Nordic walking has spread across the world and increased in popularity. It opened BungyPump US in California last year and is also working on widening distribution across Europe.
BungyPump poles include length-adjustment hardware and wrist straps. They come in several different models, including the Number One, which has up to 8.8 pounds (4 kg) of resistance, and the Energy, which has up to 13.2 pounds (6 kg). Both models retail for US$159.99 a pair.
The video below runs a bit on the technical side, but it does show the poles in use.