Originating from Scandinavia, Nordic Walking, evolved from Nordic Ski-ing (or langlauf, cross country skiing).
During the Summer months, when the snow had melted, the skiers would replicate the same movement patterns and continue with their training using the poles.
This was developed into a far more leisurely activity called Nordic Walking. Now hugely popular Worldwide, it really does work your whole body and when the technique is learnt has many health benefits. I run a very sociable class where we walk, talk, have fun and feel great.