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