Over recent months there has been much discussion, and some controversy, over who founded Nordic Walking. INWA is quite clear on the history of Nordic Walking and it’s founder and wishes to state, particularly for the benefit of those who are unaware of the true foundations of Nordic Walking.
In their recent book on Nordic Walking Tiina Arrankoski and Tuomo Kettunenhave detailed the evidence of how, in 1966, Leena Jääskeläinen, a physical education teacher in the School ofViherlaakso, Helsinki introduced “walking with ski poles” into the students’ lessons. She recognized the benefits that engaging up to 90% of the body’s muscles would have on young people.
When Leena joined the PE Faculty at the University of Jyväskylä she continued to promote what is now known as Nordic Walking, recommending the use of poles as a tool in PE lessons and developing a range of exercises with poles.
The move to bring Nordic Walking beyond the education system and to the attention of the general public came in the early 1990’s with the work of Tuomo Jantunen, director of theSuomen Latu (The Central Association for Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities).
Since then there have been a number of people in Finland, including the President of INWA, Aki Karihtala (former senior vice president of Exel), Matti Heikkilä(Vierumäki Sports Institute), Sirpa Arvonen(Suomen Latu) and Marko Kantanevaamong the others, who have promoted and developed Nordic Walking to where it has been able to benefit millions of people around the world.
But rather than having an “originator” of walking with ski poles in its modern form, documented history clearly places the credit for establishing Nordic Walking withLeena Jääskeläinen, a visionary teacher.