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Latest Nordic Walking Research

Nordic Walking can help heart failure rehab

Nordic walking is a “promising alternative” treatment for heart failure patients, according to Canadian researchers.

Their study involved 54 patients who were aged 62 on average. They received either standard cardiac rehabilitation care or took part in a programme of Nordic walking. Both groups did 200-400 minutes of exercise per week for 12 weeks.

Compared with standard care, Nordic walking led to higher functional capacity, greater self-reported physical activity, increased right grip strength, and fewer depressive symptoms.

However, no significant differences were found for peak aerobic capacity, left-hand grip strength, body weight, waist circumference, or symptoms of anxiety.

“Nordic walking was superior to standard cardiac rehabilitation care in improving functional capacity and other important outcomes in patients with heart failure,” the authors said in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

“This exercise modality is a promising alternative for this population.”

Nordic walking is an activity performed with two specially designed walking poles similar to ski poles. It is a more intense exercise than normal walking,involving use of more of the body, increased energy consumption and a higher heart rate.

The term “Nordic walking” was first coined in 1999 but the concept dates back to 1979.


Health Benefits of Nordic Walking


Modern lifestyle, with its lack of everyday physical activity and exercise training, predisposes people to chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension, and coronary artery diseases. Brisk walking as a simple and safe form of exercise is undisputedly an effective measure to counteract sedentary lifestyle risks even in the most unfit and could lead to a reduction of the prevalence of chronic diseases in all populations. The purpose of this review is to systematically summarize, analyze, and interpret the health benefits of Nordic walking (walking with poles), and to compare it to brisk walking and jogging.

Evidence acquisition

A systematic and comprehensive literature search was performed between November 2010 and May 2012. Data were analyzed between April 2011 and May 2012.

Evidence synthesis

Sixteen RCTs with a total of 1062 patients and 11 observational studies with 831 patients were identified. The current analysis revealed that with regard to short- and long-term effects on heart rate, oxygen consumption, quality of life, and other measures, Nordic walking is superior to brisk walking without poles and in some endpoints to jogging.


Nordic walking exerts beneficial effects on resting heart rate, blood pressure, exercise capacity, maximal oxygen consumption, and quality of life in patients with various diseases and can thus be recommended to a wide range of people as primary and secondary prevention.

Nordic Walking Systematic Review - full text (PDF)


Nordic Walking Research on Obesity Management


The effects of a Nordic walking (NW) program compared to those of a walking (W) program on physiological and perceptual variables in obese middle-aged women were investigated. Subjects (n=12 NW group, n=11 W group) trained over 12 weeks 3 times.week (-1). Body mass, body mass index (BMI), body fat, heart rate (HR), resting blood pressure, peak oxygen consumption (V?O (2peak)) were measured before and after the training period. Moreover, HR, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and adherence were recorded during all training sessions. After the training period body mass, body fat and diastolic blood pressure decreased in both groups (P<0.05) whereas V?O (2peak) increased in the NW group (+3.7?ml.min (-1).kg (-1); P=0.005). During the training sessions, mean HR (P=0.021), HR at preferred walking speed (P=0.020) and % of time at high intensity (P=0.031) were higher in NW than in the W group. Finally, RPE was not influenced by the modality of exercise and NW group showed a higher rate of adherence (91±19% vs. 81±29%; P=0.011). To conclude, NW activity in obese women allows an increase in exercise intensity and adherence to a training program without increasing the perception of effort leading to enhanced aerobic capacity.

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Nordic Walking to fight Parkinson's Disease

Nordic Walking is proving to be a great gift for individuals suffering from Parkinson disease. The seemingly simple looking activity of walking with Nordic poles is bringing a lot of hope and cheer to people who had compromised with a life of pain and inactivity.

Visually Nordic Walking benefits may seem to be hard to pin down but it is not so in reality. The very act of walking with the active participation of the upper body, confers the kind of benefits on the body, which can matched by only very few exercises.

The combination of Nordic Walking Poles with regular walking produces an effect akin to the movement of a four wheel vehicle. While regular walking entails the use of the legs but keeps the upper body largely under exercised, Nordic walking ensures the active use of all the four limbs of the body. The active use of the whole body results in many health benefits like

  1. Improved balance for the body
  2. Increased heart rate
  3. Better vascular health
  4. Better oxygen intake
  5. Benefits to the hip, knee and ankle joints.
  6. Higher Bone density.

All these benefits combine to provide a better quality of life to Parkinson afflicted individuals. The body feels stronger and there is a qualitative increase in the confidence level of Parkinson afflicted individuals.

Nordic walking provides all the benefits of  regular exercise and many additional benefits also but interestingly, the side effects of walking are totally eliminated in Nordic walking. Besides all the great effects of Nordic walking, the greatest help comes in the shape of very significant increase in the body balance. Patients of Parkinson disease often suffer from body balance issues and often lose mobility in the long run. Nordic walking is a great option for such people. The quality of life and the zeal for life witnesses a much needed upward shift with the initiation to Nordic walking.

If you have Parkinson's buying a set of Nordic Walking Poles could be just what you need to secure your balance and confidence when you are out and about.


Nordic Walking for geriatric rehabilitation

Nordic walking for geriatric rehabilitation: a randomized pilot trial

There is a need to identify effective interventions to promote walking capacity in seniors. This study compares nordic walking (NW) and usual overground walking (OW) and estimates the relative efficacy in improving walking capacity (endurance and gait speed) of the elderly. Method: Single blind, site-stratified, randomized, pilot trial designed to estimate the amount of change with NW and OW. Main outcomes were distance walked measured by 6-min walk test (6MWT) and comfortable gait speed measured by 5-meter walk test (5MWT). Explanatory variables were age, sex, number of comorbidities, walking aids, balance, pain, and leg function. Results: NW and OW participants improved, respectively, 45 and 41 m on 6MWT and increased their gait speed by 0.14 and 0.07 m/s, respectively. NW effect sizes were moderate for 6MWT (ES = 0.53) and large for gait speed (effect size (ES) = 0.68). OW demonstrated moderate effect size for 6MWT (ES = 0.53) but a small one for gait speed (ES = 0.33). Relative efficacy, which was obtained from the ratio of NW and OW effects’ sizes, was 1 for 6MWT and 2.06 for gait speed. Conclusions: NW is 106% more effective in improving gait speed among elderly than OW.

Implications for Rehabilitation
  • Elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population. With advanced age, greater number of disabilities, and consequently mobility limitations, are observed among this group.
  • Nordic walking is a more intensive form of walking, using muscles of upper and lower body. There’s evidence that nordic walking leads to greater cardiorespiratory workload without an increase in the level of exertion.
  • In this study, nordic walking was 106% more efficient than regular walking in improving gait speed among the elderly.
  • Clinicians specialized in geriatric rehabilitation may contribute to improve gait speed of seniors by adding nordic walking, a non-expensive and feasible option, to their physiotherapy sessions.
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