Nordic Walking Can Be Incorporated in the Exercise Prescription to Increase Aerobic Capacity, Strength, and Quality of Life for Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Rejuvenation Res. 2018 Apr;21(2):141-161. doi: 10.1089/rej.2017.1921. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to summarize and analyze the effects of Nordic Walking on physical fitness, body composition, and quality of life in the elderly. Keyword "Nordic Walking" associated with "elderly" AND/OR "aging" AND/OR "old subjects" AND/OR "aged" AND/OR "older adults" were used in the online database MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, and SPORTDiscus. Only studies written in English language and published in peer-reviewed journals were considered. A meta-analysis was performed and effect sizes calculated. Fifteen studies were identified; age of participants ranged from 60 to 92 years old. Comparing with a sedentary group, effect sizes showed that Nordic Walking was able to improve dynamic balance (0.30), functional balance (0.62), muscle strength of upper (0.66) and lower limbs (0.43), aerobic capacity (0.92), cardiovascular outcomes (0.23), body composition (0.30), and lipid profile (0.67). It seemed that Nordic Walking had a negative effect on static balance (-0.72). Comparing with a walking (alone) training, effect sizes showed that Nordic Walking improved the dynamic balance (0.30), flexibility of the lower body (0.47), and quality of life (0.53). Walking training was more effective in improving aerobic capacity (-0.21). Comparing Nordic Walking with resistance training, effect sizes showed that Nordic Walking improved dynamic balance (0.33), muscle strength of the lower body (0.39), aerobic capacity (0.75), flexibility of the upper body (0.41), and the quality of life (0.93). Nordic Walking can be considered as a safe and accessible form of aerobic exercise for the elderly population, able to improve cardiovascular outcomes, muscle strength, balance ability, and quality of life.

Keywords: Nordic Walking; elderly; exercise prescription; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Walking / physiology*