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Respiration. 2015;89(3):221-5. doi: 10.1159/000371356. Epub 2015 Feb 11.

Nordic walking enhances oxygen uptake without increasing the rate of perceived exertion in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Thorax Clinic Institute, Respiratory Diagnostic Center, Barcelona, Spain.



In healthy subjects, Nordic walking (NW) generates higher oxygen uptake (V˙O2) than standard walking at an equal rate of perceived exertion (RPE). The feasibility and positive outcomes of NW in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been reported.


The aim of the current study is to assess the physiological responses and RPE during NW in COPD patients.


In 15 COPD patients [mean (SD) age 67 (9) years] with a forced expiratory volume in the 1st s of 55% (15)], V˙O2, minute ventilation and heart rate were measured with a portable system during the 6-min walking test (6MWT), incremental shuttle walking test (SWT), 6-min NW on solid ground (6mNWground) and 6-min NW on soft dry beach sand (6mNWsand). The RPE using a modified Borg scale was assessed after each test.


6mNWground and 6mNWsand showed a higher V˙O2 plateau compared with the 6MWT and peak V˙O2 measured during SWT [mean (SD) V˙O2 21 (3), 22 (4), 18 (4) and 19 (5) ml·kg(-1)·min(-1), respectively; p < 0.05 each]. However, no differences in RPE were observed among 6mNWground, 6MWT and SWT [modified Borg scale score for dyspnea 4.2 (2.0), 4.1 (1.8) and 4.3 (1.7), respectively; nonsignificant]. However, RPE in 6mNWsand was significantly higher than in all the other exercise protocols [modified Borg scale score for dyspnea 5.2 (2.2); p < 0.05].


In COPD patients, the use of Nordic poles generates higher V˙O2 than standard walking with no differences in the dyspnea score. The results indicate the potential to enhance community-based training programs in these patients. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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