Physiological and perceptual responses to Nordic Walking in a natural mountain environment

Alessandro Grainer, Livio Zerbini, Carlo Reggiani, Giuseppe Marcolin, James Steele, Gaspare Pavei, Antonio Paoli

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    Background: Interest around Nordic Walking (NW) has increased in recent years. However, direct comparisons of NW with normal walking (W), particularly in ecologically valid environments is lacking. The aim of our study was to compare NW and W, over long distances in a natural mountain environment. Methods: Twenty one subjects (13 male/8 female, aged 41 ± 12 years, body mass index BMI 24.1 ± 3.7), walked three distinct uphill paths (length 2.2/3.4/7 km) with (NW) or without (W) walking poles over two separate days. Heart rate (HR), energy expenditure (EE), step length (SL), walking speed (WS), total steps number (SN) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were monitored. Results: HR (+18%) and EE (+20%) were higher in NW than in W whilst RPE was similar. SN (−12%) was lower and SL (+15%) longer in NW. WS was higher (1.64 vs. 1.53 m s−1) in NW. Conclusions: Our data confirm that, similarly to previous laboratory studies, differences in a range of walking variables are present between NW and W when performed in a natural environment. NW appears to increase EE compared to W, despite a similar RPE. Thus, NW could be a useful as aerobic training modality for weight control and cardiorespiratory fitness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1235
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2017


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