gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Balance and co-ordination training vs. nordic walking - preventive effects and fall prevention for seniors?

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author B. Wollesen - University of Hamburg, Germany
  • V. Nagel - University of Hamburg, Germany
  • J. Schröder - University of Hamburg, Germany

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa104

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Wollesen et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




Impaired balance and blood pressure regulation are strongly associated with an increased risk of falling. Several balance improvement approaches have been evaluated. Training with the aim to improve blood pressure regulation has been rarely examined.

We investigated whether balance and co-ordination training (B&C) or Nordic Walking (NW) improves balance and blood pressure in community-dwelling elderly.


Ninety participants were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of B&C or NW. Group sessions lasted 60 minutes each and were supervised by a professional trainer. Mean age was 64,4(±3,3) years; 55,5 percent were women.

Heart rate measurement (Polar) was given provided with a target frequency of 128 to 135 bpm. Data on systolic blood pressure (sBP), diastolic blood pressure (dBP), and sympathovagal balance (LF/HF-Quotient) were collected during an 8 min HRV measurement. Unipedal balance performance was assessed by analysis of videotaped observations using a systematic observation protocol.

Statistical analysis covered variance analysis with 3- way ANOVA within usual limits of significance using the group factors gender and treatment allocation (B&C, NW) or the measurement factor test to establish main and interaction effects.


Both interventions showed at least a tendency towards lowering the blood pressure: sBP (p=0.0002), dBP (p=0.054). However, B&C seemed to be more effectice and reduced the sBP about 9 mmHG, whereas NW only reduced the sBP about 3 mmHG. The LF/HF-quotient was significantly reduced (p=0.002). Neither gender nor group did significantly change the result (p=0.280 and p=0.362, resp.). Both programs improved unipedal balance. During the first measurement 35 percent of the seniors were able to perform the unipedal task. The second assessment indicated an improvement, since 58,7 percent of the seniors managed the task well.


The exercise programs under investigation improved balance as well as blood pressure. B&C might probably be superior, since it showed greater effects on reduction of sBP and dBP. Changes in LF/HF can be interpreted as the result of reduced cardiac and mental stress. Once more, B&C resulted in a greater benefit. Our results are supported by previous studies on endurance training. Both proramms can decrease risks of falling.