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17.03.2008

Research by Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences and a Japanese university
Regular Nordic Walking may reduce the risk of falls in elderly people

Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences and one Japanese university are investigating how the structured long-term Nordic Walking exercise program effects on mobility, balance and physical condition of the elderly. These factors promote to instability in common daily movement thereby increasing the risk of fall. It is well known phenomenon that the improvement of mobility and balance prevents falls and fractures.

Nordic Walking
The aim of the research is study how the long-term Nordic Walking effects on mobility, balance and physical condition of the elderly. The study includes a total of 40 interested Japanese. In the picture Sadayoshi Murakawa (left) and Mayumi Sakuma.
High resolution image (384 Kb)
Photo: Takayuki Kawamura

The training effects of Nordic Walking on cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance have been shown in the previous studies. This is assumed to enhance an elderly person’s performance ability and reduce the risk of falls. This would be a very benefit in Japan especially, because Japan is the fastest ageing nation in the world.

Currently there are 32,000 centenarians in Japan. The study carried out there involves two groups of 20 Japanese people over the age of 65 (experimental group and control group). After baseline measurements the members of experimental group have participated for eight weeks in supervised Nordic Walking practice. The final measurements have just been taken and the results are analyzed this spring. The participants were very enthusiastic about the experiment even though Nordic Walking is a totally new form of exercise for them.

The effects of Nordic Walking on their mental well-being will also be evaluated. The balance measurements were supervised by the Finns and muscle strength and well-being evaluations will be done by the Japanese.

Sufficient leg muscle forces have been proven to be connected to good balance. Poor balance increases the risk of falling, and falls are the greatest single cause of accidents and accidental death among the elderly. If Nordic Walking reduces the risk of falls in the elderly, it is safe and cost effective exercise and it gives new ways for health promotion, support independent living and reduce fall risk globally. The effects of Nordic Walking have been shown to be similar on a global level regardless of the elderly person’s cultural environment.

The research project was originally made by Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences (PIRAMK), which is implementing it together with the University of Tohoku Fukushi, Exel Ltd. and Hur Labs Ltd. In Japan the project has got support from the Sendai-Finnish Wellbeing Center. In Tampere also the Wellbeing Technology project (HYVITE) has supported the study.

More information:

Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences
Jarmo Perttunen, Principal Lecturer
Tel. +358 50 560 3159    
firstname.lastname@piramk.fi
Hur Labs Ltd.
Anssi Lipsonen, Management Director
Tel. +358 20 743 7843
anssi.lipsonen@hurlabs.com
Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences
Esa Ala-Uotila, R&D Director
Tel. +358 50 568 5352
firstname.lastname@piramk.fi


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