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J Vasc Surg. 2002 May;35(5):887-93.

Increasing exercise tolerance of persons limited by claudication pain using polestriding.

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Edward Hines, Jr, VA Hospital, Research Service (151), 5th Avenue & Roosevelt Road, Hines, IL 60141, USA.



The efficacy of polestriding exercise (walking with modified ski poles with a movement pattern similar to cross-country skiing) to increase exercise tolerance of persons with intermittent claudication pain caused by peripheral arterial disease was tested in this 24-week prospective randomized clinical trial.


The study was conducted in a Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital with 52 individuals who gave written informed consent and were randomized into either a polestriding exercise (n = 27; age, 65.5 +/- 7.0 years; ankle brachial index, 0.64 +/- 0.25) or nonexercise control (n = 25; age, 68.6 +/- 8.9 years; ankle brachial index, 0.69 +/- 0.14) group (P >.05 for all comparisons). The polestriding exercise program consisted of supervised training three times per week for 4 weeks, two times per week for 8 weeks, one time per week for 4 weeks, biweekly for 4 weeks and unsupervised training for 4 weeks. Starting in week 5, subjects took their poles home with instructions to repeat the most recent supervised training walk at an appropriate and convenient location near their residence. This was referred to as unsupervised but directed exercise. Subjects were provided with a personal log book for documenting unsupervised exercise sessions. With both supervised and unsupervised exercise, subjects were expected to complete a total of four 30-minute to 45-minute polestriding exercise sessions per week. The main outcome measures were exercise duration on symptom-limited incremental treadmill test, Walking Impairment Questionnaire, rating of perceived leg pain at baseline, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 24 weeks, and constant work-rate treadmill exercise tests at baseline and at 4, 12, and 24 weeks.


Polestriding significantly (P <.001) improved exercise tolerance on the constant work-rate and incremental treadmill tests. Ratings of perceived claudication pain were significantly less after the polestriding training program. Subject perceived distance and walking speed scores on the Walking Impairment Questionnaire improved in the polestriding trained group only (P <.001 and.022, respectively).


This randomized clinical trial provides empirical evidence that 24 weeks of polestriding training significantly improves quantitative and qualitative measures of the exercise tolerance of persons limited by intermittent claudication pain.

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