The effects of a Nordic walking (NW) program compared to those of a walking (W) program on physiological and perceptual variables in obese middle-aged women were investigated. Subjects (n=12 NW group, n=11 W group) trained over 12 weeks 3 times.week (-1). Body mass, body mass index (BMI), body fat, heart rate (HR), resting blood pressure, peak oxygen consumption (V˙O (2peak)) were measured before and after the training period. Moreover, HR, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and adherence were recorded during all training sessions. After the training period body mass, body fat and diastolic blood pressure decreased in both groups (P<0.05) whereas V˙O (2peak) increased in the NW group (+3.7 ml.min (-1).kg (-1); P=0.005). During the training sessions, mean HR (P=0.021), HR at preferred walking speed (P=0.020) and % of time at high intensity (P=0.031) were higher in NW than in the W group. Finally, RPE was not influenced by the modality of exercise and NW group showed a higher rate of adherence (91±19% vs. 81±29%; P=0.011). To conclude, NW activity in obese women allows an increase in exercise intensity and adherence to a training program without increasing the perception of effort leading to enhanced aerobic capacity.
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