Nordic walking improves functional capacity in heart disease patients

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 07:08 EDT

According to a new study, Nordic walking boosts functional capacity, or the ability to do everyday tasks, in individuals with coronary heart disease more than normal high-intensity interval training and moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training. The findings of the research were published in the journal ‘Canadian Journal of Cardiology’.

"Patients with coronary artery disease frequently demonstrate diminished functional capacity, low quality of life and increased the risk of subsequent cardiovascular events and mortality," explained lead investigator Jennifer L. Reed of University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Growing evidence suggests that non-conventional exercise interventions, such as high-intensity interval training and Nordic walking are more effective than traditional exercise approaches in improving functional capacity measured by a six-minute walk test - an important predictor of cardiovascular events in patients with coronary artery disease. Nordic walking is an enhanced form of walking exercise that uses specifically designed poles to further engage both the upper and lower body muscles.

While all exercise programs improved depression symptoms and quality of life, the improvement in functional capacity was greatest after Nordic walking ( 19 per cent) when compared to high-intensity interval training ( 13 per cent) and moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training ( 12 per cent).

"This study is novel in that it simultaneously compared the sustained effects (i.e., 14 weeks after the completion of cardiovascular rehabilitation) of different exercise programs that can readily be incorporated into daily exercise. When prescribing exercise for patients with coronary artery disease, patient's preferences should be considered. Our findings can impact patient care by providing alternative exercise options based on their interests and needs," he concluded.

"The addition of Nordic poles to moderate to vigorous-intensity walking is a simple, accessible option to enhance improvements in walking capacity, increase energy expenditure, engage upper body musculature, and improve other functional parameters such as posture, gait, and balance," commented Dr. Lavie.

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