Nordic Walking an Enhanced Form of Walking Helps Improve Heart Function

Coronary artery disease is a common heart condition. The major blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries) struggle to send enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart muscle. Cholesterol deposits (plaques) in the heart arteries and inflammation are usually the cause of coronary artery disease.

Coronary artery disease often develops over decades. Symptoms may go unnoticed until a significant blockage causes problems or a heart attack occurs. 

The main way to prevent the development of coronary artery disease is through a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating low-fat, low-salt diets. Also, reducing risk factors such as smoking, controlling blood pressure, and conditions like diabetes. 

There are different types of exercises, and each of them can have different health benefits. Some examples include high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a training technique that emphasizes an intense burst of training, followed by short recovery periods, and moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training (MICT), which consists of 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise at 64-76% peak heart rate. 

Another type of exercise, called Nordic Walking consists of an enhanced form of walking exercise that uses specifically designed poles to further engage both the upper and lower body muscles. 

“A Different Way of Walking” 

Recently, a group of researchers compared these 3 different types of exercises during a 12 week study in which functional capacity, quality of life, and depression symptoms were evaluated. The research appears in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 

For the study, a total of 130 participants with coronary artery disease were included that were randomized to each type of exercise, with 29 participants in the HIIT group, 27 in the MICT group, and 30 in the nordic walking group. The participants completed a 12-week exercise program and were followed up for over 14 weeks. 

The team found that the 3 types of exercise positively impacted all areas, functional capacity, quality of life, and symptoms of depression. However, the Nordic walking group experienced the most benefit in functional capacity. 

Functional capacity is a broad term that describes a person’s ability to perform the daily activities that require physical exertion. Patients diagnosed with heart failure, regardless of cause, demonstrate a compromised functional capacity. The study showed that Nordic walking could be a good alternative way of exercise for patients with coronary artery disease.


Tasuku Terada, PhD, et al. Sustained Effects of Different Exercise Modalities on Physical and Mental Health in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial. 2022. Canadian Journal of Cardiology. DOI:

Camila J. Williams, et al. A  Multi-Center Comparison of Trainability Between Interval Training and Moderate Intensity Continuous Training. Front. Physiol., 05 February 2019 | 

Jessica Norris (2022, Jun 22). Nordic walking helps improve heart function, study finds. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

Arena R, Cahalin LP, Borghi-Silva A, Phillips SA. Improving functional capacity in heart failure: the need for a multifaceted approach. Curr Opin Cardiol. 2014 Sep;29(5):467-74. doi: 10.1097/HCO.0000000000000092. PMID: 25036108. 

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