2018 Volume 15 Pages 38-51
Although Nordic Walking (NW) is a fast growing form of exercise in Europe. This study aimed to determine how a supervised NW exercise program affects basic fitness and examine its application as a sports activity for supporting the health of elderly. Forty participants were randomly assigned to the NW group (NW: 66±4 years old) or the control group (CO: 68±4 years old). Functional measurements included the sit-and-reach test, timed-up and go test (TUG), knee extensor strength assessment, and incremental shuttle walking test (ISWT). Throughout the ISWT, the heart rate (HR) of each subject was monitored. Static balance was measured with a force platform under four test conditions: normal standing, with eyes open and closed, semi-tandem, and tandem standing with eyes open. These measurements were taken before and after the 8-week NW program. The NW group exercised 60–90 min/session, 3 times/wk. Results showed that NW training had positive effects on the TUG test, flexibility, and knee extensor strength (p < 0.05) assessments. In contrast, knee extensor strength was decreased in the CO group throughout the duration of the study (p < 0.05). The NW group walked with significantly lower HRs from level 1 (1.8 km/h) to 5 (4.3 km/h) after training (p < 0.05). However, there was no significant difference in HRs for the CO group during the ISWT. There were no significant changes between the groups in any of the four platform tests. In conclusion, the 8-week NW program either improved or maintained flexibility, leg strength, and cardiorespiratory endurance with no measurable changes in static balance.