Physiological and perceptual responses to Nordic walking in obese middle-aged women in comparison with the normal walk

H. Figard-Fabre, N. Fabre, A. Leonardi, F. Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to compare physiological and perceptual responses to Nordic walking (NW) in obese women to those of walking (W), and to assess if these responses were modified by a learning period of NW technique. Eleven middle-aged obese women completed exercise trials (5 min each) at 4 km/h, inclinations of -5, 0 and +5%, with and without poles. Ventilation (V E), oxygen consumption (VO2) energy cost (EC), heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and cycle length were measured before and after a 4-week learning period (12 sessions). VE VO2 EC, HR and cycle length were significantly higher (P <0.001) during NW trials than W trials. RPE was significantly diminished (pole × inclination interaction, P = 0.031) when using NW poles compared to W uphill. Significant pole × inclination interactions were observed for VO2 (P = 0.022) and EC (P = 0.022), whereas significant pole × time interaction was found for EC (P = 0.043) and RPE (P = 0.039). Our results confirmed that use of NW poles increased physiological responses at a given speed but decreased RPE in comparison with W during inclined level. Moreover, this is the first study showing that a learning period of NW technique permitted to enhance the difference between EC with NW poles versus the W condition and to decrease the RPE when using NW poles. Thus, although it requires a specific learning of the technique, the NW might be considered like an attractive physical activity with an important public health application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1151
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Energy cost
  • Obesity
  • Poles
  • Technique
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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