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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2007 Aug;17(4):316-23. Epub 2006 Oct 12.

Self-guided brisk walking training with or without poles: a randomized-controlled trial in middle-aged women.

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UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland.


Walking with poles (Nordic walking, NW) has become popular. We compared training responses of brisk walking (W) or NW on cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular fitness. We randomized 121 non-obese sedentary women (aged 50-60) to an NW or W group (NWG, WG), to train 40 min four times weekly for 13 weeks. Intensity was based on subjective perception of exertion. Cardiorespiratory performance was assessed in four levels corresponding to 50%, 65%, 80% and 100% of peak VO(2). Fifty-four NWG and 53 WG subjects completed the study. The mean intensity was about 50% of heart rate (HR) reserve. The baseline peak VO(2) was 25.8 (SD 3.9) mL/min/kg. Both groups improved peak VO(2) similarly (NWG 2.5 mL/min/kg, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9-3.3; WG 2.6, CI 1.9-3.3). In the submaximal stages while walking with or without poles, HR and lactate decreased after training in both groups, but the changes were not statistically significantly different between the groups. Of the neuromuscular tests after training, the only significant difference between the groups was in the leg strength in the one-leg squat, favoring WG. In conclusion, both training modes improved similarly health-enhancing physical fitness, and they were feasible and safe.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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