Skip to main content

Nordic walking in the second half of life



The objective of this article is to review the literature regarding the effectiveness and safety of Nordic walking (NW) in therapeutic rehabilitation in patients of an advanced age.


Randomized studies comparing NW with different patterns of long-lasting physical rehabilitation in older adults (average age 65 years) were selected for the review. Studies were identified through a Medline database search covering the last 21 years.


Seventy-four studies on this subject were identified, 37 of them fulfilled the required criteria and 27 of these were analyzed in this review.


Nordic walking provides a safe and effective way to enhance physical activity in the elderly. It could also serve as a method of rehabilitation that improves fitness, the performance and the exercise capacity of aged persons with diseases associated with an advanced age: cardiovascular diseases due to atherosclerosis; metabolic syndrome without diabetes; early stage Parkinson’s disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lowering depression in women with Sjögren’s Syndrome.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Łukasik A, Barylski M, Irzmański R (2011) Rehabilitation of elderly people—therapy of choice for aging population (in Polish). Geriatria 5:315–323

    Google Scholar 

  2. The World Health Organization (1997) Issues guidelines for promoting physical activity among older persons. J Aging Phys Activity 5:1–8

  3. Kocur P, Wilk M (2006) Nordic walking—a new form of exercise in rehabilitation (in Polish). Rehabilitacja Medyczna 10:9–14

    Google Scholar 

  4. Schiffer T, Knicker A, Dannöhl R et al (2009) Energy cost and pole forces during nordic walking under different surface conditions. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41:663–668

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Church TS, Earnest CP, Morss GM (2002) Field testing of physiological responses associated with Nordic walking. Res Q Exerc Sport 73:296–300

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Hansen EA, Smith G (2009) Energy expenditure and comfort during Nordic walking with different pole lengths. J Strength Cond Res 23:1187–1194

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Kamień D (2008) Walk test used to monitor the performance in the health-directed Nordic walking. Phys Educ Sport 52:69–72

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Kukkonen-Harjula K, Hiilloskorpi H, Mänttäri A et al (2007) Self-guided brisk walking training with or without poles: a randomized-controlled trial in middle-aged women. Scand J Med Sci Sports 17:316–323

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Perrey S, Fabre N (2008) Exertion during uphill, level and downhill walking with and without hiking poles. J Sports Sci Med 7:32–38

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. Porcari JP, Hendrickson TL, Walter PR et al (1997) The physiological responses to walking with and without power poles on treadmill exercise. Res Q Exerc Sport 68:161–166

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Rodgers CD, Vanheest JL, Schachter CL (1995) Energy expenditure during submaximal walking with exerstriders. Med Sci Sports Exerc 27:607–611

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Schiffer T, Knicker A, Hoffman U et al (2006) Physiological responses to nordic walking, walking and jogging. Eur J Appl Physiol 98:56–61

  13. Morgulec-Adamowicz N, Marszałek J, Jagustyn P (2011) Nordic walking—a new form of adapted physical activity (a literature review). Hum Mov 12:124–132

    Google Scholar 

  14. Parkatti T, Perttunen J, Wacker P (2012) Improvements in functional capacity from Nordic walking: a randomized-controlled trial among elderly people. J Aging Phys Act 20:93–105

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Chomiuk T, Folga A, Mamcarz A (2013) The influence of systematic pulse-limited physical exercise on the parameters of the cardiovascular system in patients over 65 years of age. Arch Med Sci 9:201–209

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Figueiredo S, Finch L, Mai J, Ahmed S et al (2013) Nordic walking for geriatric rehabilitation: a randomized pilot trial. Disabil Rehabil 35:968–975

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Wilk M, Kocur P, Różańska A et al (2005) Assessment of the selected physiological effects of Nordic walking performed as a part of a physical exercise program during the second phase of rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction (in Polish). Rehabilitacja Medyczna 9:33–39

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lejczak A (2012) Abstract P939 SOURCE: heart failure association of the European Society of Cardiology, news release. The Heart Failure Congress, 19–22 May, Belgrade, Serbia

  19. Lejczak A, Wilczyński J, Jasiński R et al (2011) 12-week Nordic walking training improves physical fitness and quality of life in patients with systolic heart failure. Eur Heart J 32:612

  20. Keast ML, Slovinec D’Angelo ME, Nelson CR et al (2013) Randomized trial of Nordic walking in patients with moderate to severe heart failure. Can J Cardiol 29:1470–1476

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Purzycka D, Prusik K, Bohdan M et al (2011) Effect of 3-month Nordic Walking training on arterial blood pressure in women aged 60 years and over (in Polish). Nadciśnienie Tętnicze Arter Hypertens 15:335–340

    Google Scholar 

  22. Mikalacki M, Cokorilo N, Katić R (2011) Effect of nordic walking on functional ability and blood pressure in elderly women. Coll Antropol 35:889–894

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Hagner W, Hagner-Derengowska M, Wiacek M et al (2009) Changes in level of VO2max, blood lipids, and waist circumference in the response to moderate endurance training as a function of ovarian aging. Menopause 16:1009–1013

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Hagner-Derengowska M, Kaluzny K, Kochanski B et al (2015) Effects of Nordic walking and pilates exercise programs on blood glucose and lipid profile in overweight and obese postmenopausal women in an experimental, nonrandomized, open label, prospective controlled trial. Menopause 22:1215–1223. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000446

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Kawamoto R, Kohara K, Katoh T et al (2015) Changes in oxidized low-density lipoprotein cholesterol are associated with changes in handgrip strength in Japanese community-dwelling persons. Endocrine 48:871–877

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Langbain WE, Collins EG, Orebauch C (2002) Increasing exercise tolerance of persons limited by claudication pain using polestriding. J Vasc Surg 35:887–892

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Oakley C, Zwierska I, Tew G et al (2008) Nordic poles immediately improve walking distance in patients with intermittent claudication. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg 36:689–694 (discussion 695–6)

  28. Collins EG, Langbein WE, Orebaugh C et al (2011) Cardiovascular training effect associated with polestriding exercise in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Int J Sports Med 32:407–414

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Fritz T, Caidahl K, Osler M et al (2011) Effects of Nordic walking on health-related quality of life in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus, impaired or normal glucose tolerance. Diabet Med 28:1362–1372

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  30. Gram B, Christensen R, Christiansen C et al (2010) Effects of nordic walking and exercise in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Clin J Sport Med 20:355–361

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Figard-Fabre H, Fabre N, Leonardi A et al (2011) Efficacy of Nordic walking in obesity management. Int J Sports Med 32:407–414

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. van Eijkeren FJ, Reijmers RS, Kleinveld MJ et al (2008) Nordic walking improves mobility in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord 23:2239–2243

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Fritz B, Rombach S, Godau J et al (2011) The influence of Nordic Walking training on sit-to-stand transfer in Parkinson patients. Gait Posture 34:234–238

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Baatile J, Langbein W, Weaver F et al (2000) Effect of exercise on perceived quality of life of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. J Rehabil Res Dev 37:529–534

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Ebersbach G, Ebersbach A, Edler D et al (2010) Comparing exercise in Parkinson’s disease-the Berlin LSVT®BIG study. Mov Disord 15, 25:1902–1908

  36. Ebersbach G, Ebersbach A, Gandor F et al (2014) Impact of physical exercise on reaction time in patients with Parkinson’s disease-data from the Berlin BIG Study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 95:996–999

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Banerjee M, Bouillon B, Banerjee C et al (2010) Sports activity after total hip resurfacing. Am J Sports Med 38:1229–1236

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Karinkanta S, Heinonen A, Sievänen H et al (2005) Factors predicting dynamic balance and quality of life in home-dwelling elderly women. Gerontology 51:116–121

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Strömbeck BE, Theander E, Jacobsson LT (2007) Effects of exercise on aerobic capacity and fatigue in women with primary Sjögren’s syndrome. Rheumatology 46:868–871

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Hartvigsen J, Morsř L, Bendix T et al (2010) Supervised and non-supervised Nordic walking in the treatment of chronic low back pain: a single blind randomized clinical trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 11:30–38

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  41. Park H-S, Lee S-N, Sung D-H et al (2014) The effect of power nordic walking on spine deformation and visual analog pain scale in elderly women with low back pain. J Phys Ther Sci 26:1809–1812

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  42. Breyer MK, Breyer-Kohansal R, Funk GC et al (2010) Nordic walking improves daily physical activities in COPD: a randomised controlled trial. Respir Res 11:112–120

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


This publication is part of Project “WroVasc—Integrated Cardiovascular Centre”, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, within the Innovative Economy Operational Program, 2007–2013 realized in the Regional Specialist Hospital, Research and Development Center in Wroclaw.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katarzyna Skórkowska-Telichowska.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

None declared.

Statement of human and animal rights

Ethics Committee approval was obtained from the local bioethics committee (Bioethics Committee, Wroclaw Medical University, no. 130/2008 KB).

Informed consent

All the patients were provided with written information on the purpose and design of the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Skórkowska-Telichowska, K., Kropielnicka, K., Bulińska, K. et al. Nordic walking in the second half of life. Aging Clin Exp Res 28, 1035–1046 (2016).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: