Exercise is often responsible for heart health benefits but new research shows it can also provide tremendous benefits for people suffering from kidney disease. Researchers in Taiwan found those diagnosed with kidney disease were able to help keep it from progressing and were able to reduce their risk of dying by up to 38 percent through regular exercise.
It is estimated as many as 700 million people worldwide are affected by chronic kidney disease. Without intervention it can lead to muscle wasting and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. That risk is amplified when chronic kidney disease progresses to end-stage renal disease. For those patients the risk of death from cardiovascular disease jumps as much as 20 times higher.
Professor Der-Cherng Tarng of Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming University conducted research into lowering the risk of dying for kidney disease patients and published his findings in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Researchers used the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise like walking or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise such as jogging as the standard. They found those who met or beat the activity level by up to double had the most benefit from exercise during a two-year follow up period.
"Our results suggest that physical activity should be integrated into the clinical care of patients with kidney disease," Dr. Tarng said.
The study included more than 4,500 patients with chronic kidney disease who were not on dialysis. They were divided by activity level between highly active, low-active and inactive. The highly active group met or exceeded the WHO minimum while the low-active group was somewhat active but did not reach the WHO minimum. The inactive group met no physical activity standards.
The highly active group had a 38 percent lower risk of death compared to the inactive group as well as a 17 percent lower risk for end-stage renal disease and a 37 percent lower risk of a major cardiovascular event.
The key for patients was not to do too much and to also remain consistent with their exercise routine. Fellow researcher Dr. Wei-Cheng Tseng said, "Extreme amounts of exercise can induce heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) in those with kidney disease. It therefore seems sensible to avoid very high levels to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks."
At the same time, Dr. Tseng observed those who stated out highly active and became more sedentary doubled their risk of a cardiovascular event or death compared to those who remained active. "This highlights the importance of maintaining physical activity among patients with kidney disease," he said.