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Nordic Walking and Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the inside of your bones, making them fragile so they break easily. You will not feel your bones getting weaker. Women, men, and all age groups are affected.

Exercise is very important to help reduce your risk of bone loss and to help improve your bone strength.

How does exercise help osteoporosis?

Exercise or keeping moving is important for bone health and osteoporosis – whatever your age or wellness and whether you have broken bones in the past or not. Being physically active and exercising will help you in so many ways and is very unlikely to cause a broken bone. If you’re just starting out, even small amounts are better than nothing. – set achievable goals and take it step by step.

Everyone can benefit from exercise, regardless of your condition, including those who aren’t very mobile or have fractures because of osteoporosis.

The correct exercises can help to improve muscle strength, endurance, improve your balance, help to reduce your risk of falling and breaking bones, and most importantly help to keep you independent.  30 minutes a day for adults of weight-bearing exercise is recommended.

It is very important that the exercises you do, are not putting excess stress on the bones in your back and place you at risk of actually fracturing bones. 

Nordic walking is ideal as it is low impact, uses 90% of muscles, improves balance and endurance.

Benefits Of Nordic Walking & Osteoporosis

Better Balance

Nordic Walking poles provide extra support and point of contact with the ground.

Nordic Walking reduces the risk of falling, giving more confidence to those who have reduced the amount they exercise due to the fear of falls. 

The extra point of contact with the ground allows you to focus on increasing your speed and enjoying a longer walk rather than constantly worrying about falling.

Reduce Load on Joints

Nordic Walking poles uses the upper body to help reduce weight the lower joints. This is particularly important for clients with hip or knee pain and that might be getting some arthritic changes.

Studies show that when you’re using your poles, it is a big advantage for arthritic knees because the poles reduce the load or demand on the arthritic joint.

Increases Muscle Strength

Strength Exercises are important to increase muscle mass for people with osteoporosis. When your muscles pull on your bones it gives your bones work to do. Your bones will respond by renewing themselves and maintaining or improving their strength. As your muscles get stronger, they will pull harder, meaning your bones are more likely to become stronger. To strengthen your muscles, you’ll need to move them against some resistance, and walking with Nordic walking poles has shown to help.

A 2016 study looked at women with low bone mass who used Nordic Poles. After a 12-week intervention of Nordic Pole walking three times a week, these women had regained significant amount of muscle mass, improved overall function in terms of the ability to get on and off a chair, and to go up and down stairs. These are significant things that a simple piece of equipment can provide to your quality of life and the quality of your muscles and bones.

Core Activation

Nordic Walking activates your back muscles when you’re pushing on the poles and this in turn activates  your core muscles. Nordic Walking is more than a lower-body or cardiovascular activity — it is a full-body activity.

You incorporate the loading through the upper body and the co-contraction of the muscles, or the activation of the muscles in your core every time you push on the poles. A study shows that if you do proper Nordic Walking technique with an outstretched arm, that you are going to increase the cardiovascular output similar to jogging.

For those individuals that used to loved jogging but they can’t quite do so anymore, whether it be for any reasons, neurological or orthopedic, then Nordic Walking allows you to step up your game with your walking. You’ll burn more calories and get a better cardiovascular workout.

The Research

Osteoporosis & Nordic Walking

Nordic walking increases distal radius bone mineral content in young women Takeru Kato, Toru Tomioka, Takenori Yamashita, Hidehiro Yamamoto, Yasuhiro Sugajima, and Norikazu Ohnishi. Journal of sports Science and Medicine. Pub. Online May 01, 2020

Effects of short-term Nordic walking training on sarcopenia-related parameters in women with low bone mass: a preliminary study. Zbigniew MO, et al.  Clin Interv Aging, 2016; 11: 1763 – 1771

More Benefits of Nordic Waking

All walking is excellent for everyone; however, research demonstrates that Nordic Walking has several additional benefits.

Significant increase in oxygen consumption by 20% compared to normal walking, with increased calorie expenditure and heart rate compared to normal walking.  Perceived exertion did not change with Nordic walking and the increase in cardiovascular expenditure. (Church et al 2002, Kocur et al 2009, Schiffer et al 2009)

Walking distance and speed have also been shown to be increased with Nordic walking by up to 30%. (Oakley et al, 2008, Breyer et al, 2010 and Mannerkorpi et al 2010)

Nordic walking was 106% more efficient than normal walking in improving gait speed among the elderly. (Figueiredo et al 2013)

Nordic walking provided a larger improvement in upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility in older adults compared to normal walking and band-based resistance exercises. (Takeshima et al 2013)

Nordic walking significantly improved walking distance in clients with intermittent claudication. (Spafford, C., Oakley, C., Beard, J.D. 2014)

Nordic walking was superior to standard cardiac rehabilitation care in improving functional capacity and other important outcomes in patients with heart failure. (Keast et al 2013)

Health benefits of Nordic walking: a systematic review Tschentscher M, Niederseer D, Niebauer J. Am J Prev Med 2013 Jan;44(1):76-84.

The impact of Nordic walking on bone properties in postmenopausal women with pre-diabetes and non-alcohol fatty liver disease Xiaming Du, Chao Zhang, Xiangqi Zhang, Zhen Qi , Sulin Cheng and Shenglong Le.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. July 16, 2021

Stick Together: A Nordic Walking Group Intervention for Breast Cancer Survivors Journal of Psychosocial Oncology · March 2015 DOI: 10.1080/07347332.2015.1020465 · Source: PubMed

Nordic walking and its clinical benefits in different disorders Shailendra KapoorPage 1676 | Published online: 25 Jan 2013 Accessed 28 July 2022

Long-term effects of high-intensity interval training, moderate-to-vigorous intensity continuous training and Nordic walking on physical and mental health in patients with coronary artery disease T. Terada. Accessed July 28 2022

The effects of pole walking on arm lymphedema and cardiovascular fitness in women treated for breast cancer: a pilot and feasibility study Carlotta Jönsson , RPT, MSc &Karin Johansson , RPT Pages 236-242 | Published online: 31 Oct 2013 Accessed 28 July 202

Nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. Takeshima N, Islam MM, Rogers ME, Rogers NL, Sengoku N, Koizumi D, et al. Effects of J Sports Sci Med 2013;12(3):422-30.

Want to know more?

Our classes and walks for people with osteoporosis are lead by our instructor, Joanne, who is a retired nurse, with a passion for helping people like you get the best from your exercise programme.

To find out more about what we can offer you call or email Joanne:

 TEL:  +353876936903