The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Nordic Walking Study

In our Nordic Walking Study, participants were monitored and evaluated in an effort to compare oxygen consumption and energy expenditure associated with regular walking (walking without poles) and Nordic walking (walking with poles). As further detailed in Table 1, Nordic walking significantly increased oxygen consumption, caloric expenditure, heart rate, and heart rate as a percentage of maximum heart rate for both men and women without significantly affecting the rate of perceived exertion by the participants.

More specifically, Nordic walking resulted in approximately a 20% increase in oxygen consumption and energy expenditure compared to regular walking at the same speed. Thus, the implementation of upper body muscular work while walking increases the amount of calories burned. This finding has important health implications as an individual who employs walking with poles as opposed to regular walking into their regular fitness program will significantly increase the amount of calories burned particularly over an extended period of time.

Table 1. Change in Physiological Responses to Regular Walking and Nordic Walking

  % Change in Men % Change in Women
Oxygen Consumption 20.0 21.3
Caloric Expenditure 19.9 19.3
Heart Rate 8.2 4.0
% HRmax 8.2 4.0


Authorship Publication  
Church TS, Earnest CP, Morss GM. Field testing of physiological responses associated with Nordic Walking. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2002 Sep;73(3):296-300. Read Abstract