Nordic Walking for Fitness

There are well over 100 medical studies involving Nordic Walking, just a few of the many health benefits include:

  • increases exercise capacity and enhances oxygen uptake by up to 20% without increasing the rate of perceived exertion
  • uses up to 90% of your body’s muscle mass and burns up to 20% more calories than walking alone
  • shows beneficial effects on resting heart rate and blood pressure
  • provides an effective form of cardio endurance training in cardiac rehabilitation and improves walking distance for those with intermittent claudication
  • provides simple and effective physical training modality in COPD
  • improves or maintains functional independence for older adults

A number of other studies showing the fitness benefits of Nordic Walking can be found under the Obesity & Weight Management page!

Click on the links below to be taken to the abstracts.

Health benefits of Nordic walking: a systematic review.

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.

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.

Field testing of physiological responses associated with Nordic Walking.

This study compared the physiological responses (oxygen consumption and energy expenditure) of Nordic Walking to regular walking under field-testing conditions.

Nordic Walking, examined in the field, results in a significant increase in oxygen use and caloric expenditure compared to regular walking, without significantly increasing perceived exertion.

Nordic poles immediately improve walking distance in patients with intermittent claudication.

To investigate the immediate effects of Nordic pole walking (NPW) on walking distance and cardiopulmonary workload in patients with intermittent claudication.

These results show that NPW immediately enables patients with intermittent claudication to walk further with less pain, despite a higher workload. NPW might also be a useful exercise strategy for improving the cardiovascular fitness of patients with intermittent claudication.

Changes in level of VO2max, blood lipids, and waist circumference in the response to moderate endurance training as a function of ovarian aging.

The aim of this study was to analyze the influence of moderate endurance training on a set of physiological parameters accompanying menopausal transition.

Significant decreases in BMI, TF, LDL, TGs, and WC and increase in HDL in premenopausal and perimenopausal women indicate the outstanding role the appropriately chosen moderate endurance training may play in the quality of daily life in perimenopausal women.

Energy expenditure and comfort during Nordic walking with different pole lengths.

Energy expenditure and comfort for Nordic walking with self-selected and 7.5-cm shorter poles and ordinary walking were measured during uphill (12 degrees ), downhill (12 degrees ), and horizontally.

Shorter poles caused greater energy expenditure during uphill Nordic walking, whereas comfort was similar to poles of self-selected length. The substantially enhanced energy expenditure of Nordic walking compared with previous studies reflects the vigorous technique used here.

Effects of Nordic walking training on exercise capacity and fitness in men participating in early, short-term inpatient cardiac rehabilitation after an acute coronary syndrome–a controlled trial.

To investigate the effects of Nordic Walking training supplemental to a standard, early rehabilitation programme on exercise capacity and physical fitness in men after an acute coronary syndrome.

Nordic Walking may improve exercise capacity, lower body endurance and coordination of movements in patients with good exercise tolerance participating in early, short-term rehabilitation after an acute coronary syndrome.

Physiological and perceptual responses to Nordic walking in obese middle-aged women in comparison with the normal walk.

This study aimed to compare physiological and perceptual responses to Nordic walking (NW) in obese women to those of walking (W), and to assess if these responses were modified by a learning period of NW technique.

Our results confirmed that use of NW poles increased physiological responses at a given speed but decreased RPE in comparison with W during inclined level. Moreover, this is the first study showing that a learning period of NW technique permitted to enhance the difference between EC with NW poles versus the W condition and to decrease the RPE when using NW poles. Thus, although it requires a specific learning of the technique, the NW might be considered like an attractive physical activity with an important public health application.

Nordic walking improves daily physical activities in COPD: a randomised controlled trial.

In patients with COPD progressive dyspnoea leads to a sedentary lifestyle. To date, no studies exist investigating the effects of Nordic Walking in patients with COPD. Therefore, the aim was to determine the feasibility of Nordic Walking in COPD patients at different disease stages. Furthermore we aimed to determine the short- and long-term effects of Nordic Walking on COPD patients’ daily physical activity pattern as well as on patients exercise capacity.

Nordic Walking is a feasible, simple and effective physical training modality in COPD. In addition, Nordic Walking has proven to positively impact the daily physical activity pattern of COPD patients under short- and long-term observation.

Does moderate-to-high intensity Nordic walking improve functional capacity and pain in fibromyalgia? A prospective randomized controlled trial.

The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of moderate-to-high intensity Nordic walking (NW) on functional capacity and pain in fibromyalgia (FM).

Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise by means of Nordic walking twice a week for 15 weeks was found to be a feasible mode of exercise, resulting in improved functional capacity and a decreased level of activity limitations. Pain severity did not change over time during the exercise period.

Mechanical and physiological effects of varying pole weights during Nordic walking compared to walking.

The study investigated the effect of varying pole weights on energy expenditure, upper limb muscle activation and on forces transmitted to the poles during Nordic walking (NW).

The increased energy expenditure during NW can be attributed to intensified muscle activation during forward swing of the poles. Heavier poles have no effect on energy expenditure compared to NW with usual poles but enhance muscular activity. Since there are no benefits concerning physiological and biomechanical parameters we do not recommend the use of heavier NW poles.

Efficacy of Nordic walking in 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.

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.

Effects of Nordic walking on cardiovascular risk factors in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes, impaired or normal glucose tolerance.

Physical activity remains a valuable prevention for metabolic disease. The effects of Nordic walking on cardiovascular risk factors were determined in overweight individuals with normal or disturbed glucose regulation.

Nordic walking improved anthropometric measurements and exercise capacity. However, unsupervised Nordic walking may not provide a sufficient increase in exercise intensity to achieve ultimate health-promoting benefits on the cardiovascular parameters assessed in this study, particularly for those with disturbed glucose regulation.

Oxygen uptake, heart rate, perceived exertion, and integrated electromyogram of the lower and upper extremities during level and Nordic walking on a treadmill.

The purpose of this study was to characterize responses in oxygen uptake (V·O(2)), heart rate (HR), perceived exertion (OMNI scale) and integrated electromyogram (iEMG) readings during incremental Nordic walking (NW) and level walking (LW) on a treadmill.

These data suggest that the use of poles in NW attenuates muscle activity in the lower extremities during the stance and push-off phases, and decreases that of the lower extremities and increase energy expenditure of the upper body and respiratory system at certain walking speeds.

The influence of systematic pulse-limited physical exercise on the parameters of the cardiovascular system in patients over 65 years of age.

The influence of physical exercise on the parameters of the cardiovascular system of elderly persons has not been sufficiently investigated yet. The aim of the study was to assess the influence of regular 6-week physical exercise using the Nordic walking (NW) method in a group of elderly persons on their physical performance and regulation of selected parameters assessing the cardiovascular system.

Systematic NW physical exercise limited by the pulse had a beneficial effect on the physical performance of elderly persons as assessed with main parameters. A short 6-week programme of endurance exercises had a hypotensive effect in elderly persons over 65 years of age.

Oxygen uptake during Nordic walking training in patients rehabilitated after coronary events.

Nordic walking (NW) is an effective form of endurance training in cardiac rehabilitation (CR). The key parameter for the safety and effectiveness of the training is its intensity. Training intensity may be directly measured by the volume of oxygen consumption (VO₂), and indirectly by chronotropic cardiac response to exercise. No data have been published on the rates of VO₂ during NW in field conditions among patients rehabilitated after coronary events. The aim of this study is to assess the intensity of NW training in field conditions by measuring VO₂, energy expenditure (EE), and heart rate (HR) in comparison with a treadmill cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) in a group of patients rehabilitated after coronary events.

The intensity of NW training in field conditions in patients after coronary events was 59% of VO₂ reserve, and its peak instantaneous intensity reached values obtained during CPET on a treadmill. EE during NW in the study group was 8.1 kcal/min. Chronotropic response during NW was 64% of HRR, and its instantaneous increase reached the maximum HR obtained during CPET.

Short-term and long-term effects of Nordic Walking training on balance, functional mobility, muscle strength and aerobic endurance among Hungarian community-living older people: a feasibility study.

The aim of this study was to investigate the short–term and long–term effects of a moderate intensity Nordic Walking program, and the feasibility of this exercise form among Hungarian community–living older adults.

This study showed that Nordic Walking is a simple, well–tolerated and effective physical activity for older people in Hungary. Based on the findings of our studies, the Nordic Walking will play an important role in geriatric physiotherapy in order to improve or maintain the functional abilities of this growing population.

Effect of a MAST Exercise Program on Anthropometric Parameters, Physical Fitness, and Serum Lipid Levels in Obese Postmenopausal Women.

The purpose of this study was to examine an influence of a mixed aerobic and strength training program (MAST) on anthropometry, serum lipid levels, physical performance, and functional fitness in obese postmenopausal women.

The observed changes implicate an increase in a health-related quality of life among the women administered to the physical exercise program.

Nordic walking enhances oxygen uptake without increasing the rate of perceived exertion in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In healthy subjects, Nordic walking (NW) generates higher oxygen uptake (V˙O2) than standard walking at an equal rate of perceived exertion (RPE). The feasibility and positive outcomes of NW in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been reported. The aim of the current study is to assess the physiological responses and RPE during NW in COPD patients.

In COPD patients, the use of Nordic poles generates higher V˙O2 than standard walking with no differences in the dyspnea score. The results indicate the potential to enhance community-based training programs in these patients.

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