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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 December 2006, 14:08 GMT
Hundreds try out Finnish sport
Nordic Walking
Two sturdy poles are used to propel the walker
About 200 people in London have been trying out Nordic walking, a Finnish sport invented to train skiers.

Participants gathered at Hyde Park in central London and took free lessons from professional instructors.

Nordic Walking was invented in Finland nearly 10 years ago to keep professional cross country skiers in shape during the summer.

The walker is kitted with two poles which are used to propel the walker and mostly mimics skiing actions.

Long strides

Organisers of the event say the sport burns more calories than walking and results in a complete workout.

It is even said to be safer than running or walking as propelling with sticks and long strides ensure there are fewer chances of injuries or stress.

"Nordic walking is a great way to work out and provides a great way to get in shape and friends or groups of people can enjoy it together," Francis Mitchell, spokesman for Nordic Walking UK, said.

Seven million people across Europe have already taken to the sport and organisers are hoping that in a year's time 30,000 in the UK will adopt it.

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