Nordic walking could benefit people with heart disease

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In a recent study, scientists from the University of Ottawa found that nordic walking leads to a greater increase in functional capacity, and the ability to perform activities of daily living in people with coronary heart disease.

This exercise provides more benefits compared to standard high-intensity interval training and moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training.

Heart rehabilitation and exercise training programs are linked to improvements in functional capacity and heart fitness, as well as mental health.

However, some people do not enjoy monotonous forms of exercise, such as walking and stationary cycling, and therefore may stop exercising once their rehabilitation program is completed.

Growing evidence suggests that non-conventional exercise interventions, such as high-intensity interval training and Nordic walking are more effective than traditional exercise approaches in improving heart health.

Nordic walking is an enhanced form of walking exercise that uses specifically designed poles to further engage both the upper and lower body muscles.

In the study, the team compared the prolonged effects of 12-week rehabilitation with 1) high-intensity interval training; 2) moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training; and 3) Nordic walking, on functional capacity, quality of life, and depression symptoms in people with coronary artery disease.

One hundred and thirty patients were randomized to a 12-week training in one of these three groups followed by a 14-week observation phase.

The team found all exercise programs improved depression symptoms and quality of life.

But the improvement in functional capacity was greatest after Nordic walking (+19%) when compared to high-intensity interval training (+13%) and moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training (+12%).

The team says nordic walking engages core, upper and lower body muscles while reducing loading stress at the knee, which may have resulted in greater improvements in functional capacity.

Providing a variety of exercise options enhances patient enjoyment and progression, which is important for adherence and maintenance.

Exercise modalities should be prescribed with consideration of patient goals, preferences, and capabilities.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies about a common cause of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and vitamin K may help cut heart disease risk by a third.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about supplements that could help prevent heart disease and stroke, and results showing this heart problem is linked to 5 times higher death risk in COVID-19.

The research is published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology and was conducted by Jennifer L. Reed et al.

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