Keith wrote:Excellent point about this relatively undiscussed benefit of backpacking. It is pertinent not only at the personal level but also at the national policy level to get funding for trails and wilderness protection as part of a national "war on obesity".
However, I do question the point about hiking poles contributing to a net daily increase in calorie expenditure. The flaw is seen in the link to the Nordic walking article claiming 40% increase in calorie expenditure and documenting the 150 vs. 180 heart rate. What was not mentioned was the difference in time it took the guy to go up the hill with/without poles.
It's the same reason why walking and running consume about the same number of calories over the same distance covered. Yes, running consumes calories faster but you get there sooner.
Thus, any component of pole-usage energy that contributes to forward headway will NOT increase net calorie expenditure at the end of the day. That is to say, if two people agree on reaching a given destination (as is typically the case) and one uses poles and the other does not, there should be little difference in their caloric output by the time they reach their destination that is attributable to pole usage. Only "additional" usage such as carrying the weight of the poles in the first place or energy spent in balancing or swinging at spider webs will contribute to a net caloric output. Unless . . . pole usage contributes to people actually covering more miles.
But wait, there's more. It may be that pole usage (or the component that contributes to forward motion, anyway) actually reduces caloric output. It has been stated that to accomplish a given work output that it is more efficient to use multiple muscle groups at a lower exertion level than to use fewer muscle groups closer to the limit of their output. Thus using arms in addition to legs may be more calorie efficient and thereby reduce one's calorie deficit.
In conclusion, a great article making a vital point about weight control and also about the value of poles. I just think the link between poles and caloric expenditure is more complex than commonly realized and the impact of pole usage on caloric expenditure is not yet clear.
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