Objective: To investigate the effects of Nordic Walking training supplemental to a standard, early rehabilitation programme on exercise capacity and physical fitness in men after an acute coronary syndrome.
Design: A controlled trial.
Setting: Cardiac rehabilitation service of a provincial hospital.
Subjects: Eighty men 2-3 weeks after an acute coronary syndrome, with good exercise tolerance.
Interventions: Three-week, inpatient cardiac rehabilitation programme (control group) supplemented with Nordic Walking (Nordic Walking group), or with traditional walking training (walking training group).
Main measures: Exercise capacity was assessed as peak energy cost (in metabolic equivalents) in symptom-limited treadmill exercise test, and physical fitness with the Fullerton Functional Fitness Test.
Results: Exercise capacity after the rehabilitation programme was higher in the Nordic Walking group than in the control group (10.8 +/- 1.8 versus 9.2 +/- 2.2 metabolic equivalents, P =0.025). The improvement in exercise capacity in the Nordic Walking group was higher than in the control group (1.8 +/- 1.5 versus 0.7 +/- 1.4 metabolic equivalents, P =0.002). In contrast to the control group, the results of all components of the Fullerton test improved in the Nordic Walking and walking training groups. After the programme, lower body endurance, and dynamic balance were significantly better in the Nordic Walking group in comparison with the walking training and control groups, and upper body endurance was significantly better in the Nordic Walking and walking training groups than in the control group.
Conclusions: 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.