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The Evidence

The Evidence

There are hundreds of clinical and scientific reports about the health benefits of Nordic Walking available in scientific publications. Here are some links to a selection of sites and studies:

General studies

Nordic Walking can help heart failure rehab

Health Benefits of Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking Research on Obesity Management

Learn more about the Scientific Studies focusing on the benefits of Nordic Walking

Research Summary: Health Benefits of Nordic Walking: A Systematic Review. Includes 41 studies. Tschentcher et al., 2013


Stick Together: A Nordic Walking group intervention for breast cancer survivors.
Patients’ vitality had improved, whereas perceived shoulder symptom severity and limitations in daily activities had decreased. Goniometric data indicated that range of motion (forward flexion, abduction and external rotation) of the affected shoulder improved significantly within ten weeks of training. Results from this explorative study suggest that Nordic Walking is a feasible and potentially valuable tool in the rehabilitation of patients with breast cancer. Fischer et al., 2015

Effects of selected forms of physical activity on body posture in the sagittal plane in women post breast cancer treatment. Balanced postural changes were only identified among the women in the Nordic Walking group. Hanuszkiewicz et al., 2014

The effects of walking poles on shoulder function in breast cancer survivors. The data suggest that using a walking pole exercise routine for 8 weeks significantly improved muscular endurance of the upper body. Sprod et al., 2005


Randomized trial of Nordic walking in patients with moderate to severe heart failure. A study published by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, concluded that walking with poles is superior to standard cardiac rehab, even for those following mild to moderate heart failure. Keast et al., 2013

The influence of systematic pulse-limited physical exercise on the parameters of the cardiovascular system in patients over 65 years of age. Systematic NW physical exercise limited by the pulse had a beneficial effect on the physical performance of elderly persons as assessed with main parameters. A short 6-week programme of endurance exercises had a hypotensive effect in elderly persons over 65 years of age. Chomiuk et al., 2013

Effects of Nordic walking training on exercise capacity and fitness in men participating in early, short-term inpatient cardiac rehabilitation after an acute coronary syndrome–a controlled trial.
Nordic Walking may improve exercise capacity, lower body endurance and coordination of movements in patients with good exercise tolerance participating in early, short-term rehabilitation after an acute coronary syndrome. Kocur et al., 2009

Changes in level of VO2max, blood lipids, and waist circumference in the response to moderate endurance training as a function of ovarian aging. A 12-week moderate intensity Nordic walking program was administered to the cohort. Significant decreases in BMI, TF, LDL, TGs, and WC and increase in HDL in premenopausal and perimenopausal women indicate the outstanding role the appropriately chosen moderate endurance training may play in the quality of daily life in perimenopausal women. Hagner et al., 2009

Parkinson’s Disease

Nordic Walking to fight Parkinson’s Disease

Impact of physical exercise on reaction time in patients with Parkinson’s disease-data from the Berlin BIG Study. Supervised physical exercise with Lee Silverman Voice Treatment-BIG or Nordic walking is associated with improvement in cognitive aspects of movement preparation. Ebersbach et al., 2014

Effects of a flexibility and relaxation programme, walking, and Nordic walking on Parkinson’s disease. Assessment after completion of the training showed that pain was reduced in all groups, and balance and health-related quality of life were improved. Nordic walking was superior to the flexibility and relaxation programme and walking in improving postural stability, stride length, gait pattern, and gait variability. Reuter et al., 2011

Nordic walking improves mobility in Parkinson’s disease. These preliminary findings suggest that Nordic walking could provide a safe, effective, and enjoyable way to reduce physical inactivity in PD and to improve the quality of life. A large randomized clinical trial now appears justified. van Eijkeren et al., 2008

Additional list of research below on Parkinson’s Disease and Nordic Walking

Multiple Sclerosis

Step to it. Nordic walking may have multiple benefits for people with MS.

Stephanie Stephens

Improved stability and balance: Poles provide two additional points of contact with the ground, and for people with MS who may have gait problems, that can help reduce falls, physical therapist Peter Schmitt, DPT, says.

Enhanced flexibility and strength: Gentle increases in range of motion from pole movement can help reduce pain in the back, neck and shoulders. “The sport also conditions muscles of the upper body, abdominals, back and legs,” certified personal trainer Laura Jones says. In addition, it strengthens arms, adds physical therapist Nancy Mayo, PhD.

Elevated mood and well-being: Extensive research trumpets the benefits of exercise for better mental health, says Jones.

New pathways in the brain: Because of Nordic walking’s repetitive motion, including arm swings, alternate pathways can be built, says Mayo. “Repetitive movement helps neuroplasticity,” she says, noting that’s why therapists often have clients keep practicing a task, both in stroke rehabilitation as well as in MS. And arm swing, she says, is an important component for establishing or improving gait patterns.

Reduced spasticity in the foot: Nordic walking, which emphasizes the need to lead with the heel and roll onto the ball of the foot, actively stretches the heel cord.

Mental Health

Physical activity of depressed patients and their motivation to exercise: Nordic Walking in family practice. Nordic walking increased the patients’ physical activity and improved their mood. Suija et al., 2009

Acute effects of a single bout of moderate exercise on psychological well-being in patients with affective disorder during hospital treatment. A self-paced but supervised single Nordic walking session seems to be effective in improving acute psychological well-being in patients with affective disorder. Stark et al., 2012


Effects of Nordic walking on cardiovascular risk factors in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes, impaired or normal glucose tolerance. Nordic walking improved anthropometric measurements and exercise capacity. However, unsupervised Nordic walking may not provide a sufficient increase in exercise intensity to achieve ultimate health-promoting benefits on the cardiovascular parameters assessed in this study, particularly for those with disturbed glucose regulation. Fritz et al., 2013

Physical activity in pregnancy and breast-feeding period in obese mothers

Considering common recommendations for training, as well as careful measures and contraindications, a moderate individual training to maintain physical and psychic fitness is desirable. Many kinds of sports like jogging, Nordic walking, swimming and cycling, for example, can be carried out in a pregnancy without any risks and furthermore promote the health of the future mother and child. Korsten-Reck et al, 2010

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Nordic poles immediately improve walking distance in patients with intermittent claudication.
These results show that Nordic Pole Walking (NPW) immediately enables patients with intermittent claudication to walk further with less pain, despite a higher workload. NPW might also be a useful exercise strategy for improving the cardiovascular fitness of patients with intermittent claudication. Oakley et al., 2008

Older Adults

Short-term and long-term effects of Nordic Walking training on balance, functional mobility, muscle strength and aerobic endurance among Hungarian community-living older people: a feasibility study. Balance, functional mobility and aerobic endurance significantly improved in the Nordic walking group. This study showed that Nordic Walking is a simple, well–tolerated and effective physical activity for older people in Hungary. Viraq et al., 2014

Effect Of Walking Poles On Dynamic Gait Stability on the Elderly. Texas Women’s University study, which concluded that walking poles provided increased gait stability at both preferred and fast speed. Kwon, Silver, Ryu, Yoon, Newton & Shim, 2006 (unpublished)

Effects of Nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. While all modes of exercise improved various components of fitness, Nordic walking provided the best well-rounded benefits by improving upper-body strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. Therefore, Nordic walking is recommended as an effective and efficient mode of concurrent exercise to improve overall functional fitness in older adults. Takeshima et al., 2013

Knee Joints

Effects of walking poles on lower extremity gait mechanics. There were differences in kinetic variables between walking with and without poles. The use of walking poles enabled subjects to walk at a faster speed with reduced vertical ground reaction forces, vertical knee joint reaction forces, and reduction in the knee extensor angular impulse and support moment, depending on the poling condition used. Willson et al., 2001

Changes in in vivo knee contact forces through gait modification. The results of this study suggest that an optimal configuration of bilateral hiking poles may significantly reduce both medial and lateral compartment knee forces in individuals with medial knee osteoarthritis. Kinney et al., 2013

Neck Pain

Health benefits of Nordic walking: a systematic review. A study by Henkel et al. (2008) found effect of selected prevention concepts on functional health of persons with nonspecific chronic recurrent neck pain. Observed a reduced in unspecific, chronic neck pain and increased quality of life Tschentscher et al., 2013

Back Pain

Supervised and non-supervised Nordic walking in the treatment of chronic low back pain a single blind randomized clinical trial. For pain, disability, and patient specific function the supervised Nordic walking group generally faired best however no statistically significant differences were found. Hartvigisen et al., 2010


Does moderate-to-high intensity Nordic walking improve functional capacity and pain in fibromyalgia? A prospective randomized controlled trial. Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise by means of Nordic walking twice a week for 15 weeks was found to be a feasible mode of exercise, resulting in improved functional capacity and a decreased level of activity limitations. Pain severity did not change over time during the exercise period. Mannerkorpi et al., 2010

NORDIC WALKING IN FIBROMYALGIA: a means of promoting fitness that is easy for busy clinicians to recommend.
Jones KD.  Arthritis Res Ther. 2011 Feb 16;13(1):103.

Abstract: A total of 67 women with fibromyalgia were recruited to an exercise study and were randomized to moderate-to-high-intensity Nordic walking (age 48 ± 7.8 years) or to a control group engaging in supervised low-intensity walking (age 50 ± 7.6 years). A total of 58 patients completed. Significantly greater improvement in the 6-minute walk test was found in the Nordic walking group (P = 0.009), compared with the low-intensity walking group. A significantly larger decrease in exercise heart rate (P = 0.020) and significantly improved scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Physical function (P = 0.027) were found in the Nordic walking group as compared with the low-intensity walking group. No between-group difference was found for the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire total or pain scores. The authors conclude that moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise by means of Nordic walking twice a week for 15 weeks was found to be a feasible mode of exercise, resulting in improved functional capacity and a decreased level of activity limitations.
PMID:  21345243   [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC3157638 Free PMC Article


Effects of Nordic Walking and Pilates exercise programs on blood glucose and lipid profile in overweight and obese postmenopausal women in an experimental, nonrandomized, open-label, prospective controlled trial. Exercise training in accordance with the NW model causes statistically and clinically more significant changes in glucose and basic blood lipid levels than do Pilates and dietary intervention alone. Hagner-Derengowska et al., 2015

Parkinson’s Disease

Additional research (courtesy of Connect Neuro Physiotherapy)