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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2020 October;56(5):616-24

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06120-1


language: English

Effects of Nordic walking on cardiovascular performance and quality of life in coronary artery disease

Iveta NAGYOVA 1 , Marian JENDRICHOVSKY 1, 2, Rastislav KUCINSKY 3, Marketa LACHYTOVA 1, Viliam RUS 2, 4

1 Department of Social and Behavioral Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, P.J. Safarik University, Kosice, Slovakia; 2 Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Center, Vysne Ruzbachy, Slovakia; 3 Klamath Heart Clinic, Klamath Falls, OR, USA; 4 Cardiology Outpatient Department, Agency of Social Services (ASS), Dubnica nad Vahom, Slovakia

BACKGROUND: Cardiometabolic effects of physical exercise depend on its intensity, duration, and type. Conventional cardiovascular rehabilitation (CCVR) programs have significant advantages, but non-conventional activities such as Nordic walking (NW) may offer additional health benefits.
AIM: The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of NW on cardiovascular performance and quality of life in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to a CCVR program.
DESIGN: This was a pseudo-randomized, prospective, single-blinded, parallel-group trial.
SETTING: The study was conducted at a resort/spa type facility located in a mountainous natural environment, 650 meters above sea level.
POPULATION: Eighty-three CAD patients were allocated to either a Nordic walking or a control group.
METHODS: The NW group (N.=53; age 59.1±7.0 years) underwent a three-week outdoor exercise program consisting of 40 minutes of walking four-times per week, whereas the controls performed traditional walking instead of NW. A patient’s prescribed exercise intensity was according to exertion tolerance within 50-70% of peak oxygen consumption (VO2max); rating of perceived exertion ‘mild/moderate’ (12 to 14 points) on the 0-20 Borg Scale. Primary endpoint: cardiovascular and functional performance (exercise ergometry [EE], metabolic equivalent of tasks [METs], ejection fraction [EF], Six-Minute Walking Test [6MWT]). Secondary endpoint was quality of life (Short-Form 36 Health Survey). Statistical analysis was performed by generalized estimating equations with Cohen’s d effect size (ES).
RESULTS: NW led to higher cardiovascular performance compared to CCVR (ΔEE: +11.0% vs. +3.2%, small ES; ΔMETs: +9.8% vs. +1.5%, medium ES) and better functional performance (Δ6MWT: +8.3% vs. +5.1%, small ES). No significant differences were detected in EF (P=0.240) and SF-36 (PCS, P=0.425; MCS, P=0.400).
CONCLUSIONS: A three-week NW training program had clinically important effects, above and beyond CCVR, on cardiovascular and functional performance in CAD patients.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Nordic walking is an accessible, safe, and effective low-threshold cardiac rehabilitation exercise training modality that seems to be particularly well-suited for people with limited functional and motivational capacities.

KEY WORDS: Walking; Cardiac rehabilitation; Cardiovascular diseases; Coronary artery disease

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