A step in the right direction? Understanding the impact of nordic walking on adults living with Parkinson's disease


Background: Adults with Parkinson's Disease (PD) who engage in regular physical activity can experience delayed disease progression, minimized symptoms, and improved quality of life. Whereas some activities pose challenges for adults with PD, Nordic walking is one form of physical activity that can help them reach their health goals. In this study, we aimed to explore the experiences of adults with PD who participated in a Nordic walking program, including the perceived impact of the program on their motivation for physical activity and quality of life. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with eight adults with PD who completed 4 weeks of unsupervised Nordic walking. Results: Using thematic analysis, we developed five themes that reflected participants' experiences and the impact of the Nordic walking program. The themes include: participants' perceptions of the program as a catalyst for change in physical activity; improved mental and physical health was viewed as being a direct benefit of the program; participants became more self-aware of their physical abilities; though the program offered flexibility, consideration of structured, group-based programs appears important to pursue. Conclusions: Results support the use of Nordic walking that prioritize group-based, structured sessions over individual, unstructured sessions for adults with PD. Additionally, results suggest that participation in a short Nordic walking program may lead to positive outcomes including increased motivation and physical activity behaviour, improved quality of life, and heightened self-confidence.