06:04am Tuesday 22 October 2019

Chronic kidney disease patients walk their way to better health

A joint Loughborough University, University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals study into the effects of exercise for people with chronic kidney disease has found that regular walking can reduce the risk of one of the illness’s biggest killers.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death amongst chronic kidney disease sufferers which affects 8-10% of the UK population.

Researchers worked with 40 pre-dialysis patients from the John Walls Renal Unit, Leicester General Hospital,half of whom took up 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week for a six month period. 

Patients’ fitness levels were tested on a treadmill before and after the study and researchers measured levels of immune markers in the blood that are related to tissue damage (inflammation) and risk of cardiovascular disease.

For those in the exercise group, blood levels of these inflammation markers improved, which may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Patients also reported improvements to their quality of life such as better general wellbeing and gaining greater independence.

Dr Nicolette Bishop from the Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences said:

“The benefits of regular exercise for a number of long-term conditions including diabetes and heart disease are well-evidenced, but there have been very few studies looking at the effects of exercise in pre-dialysis patients with Chronic Kidney Disease, despite its prevalence in the population.

“Not only did we see physiological improvements amongst patients taking part in the study – notably a reduced cardiac risk score – but improved fitness and ability to walk further more easily gave participants a greater sense of independence.”

Dr Alice Smith, Senior Exercise Research Scientist from the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals said:

“These results show that simple exercise like regular walking can really help patients with kidney disease. We are working towards producing exercise guidelines specifically for kidney patients, and this study has given us valuable information for this purpose. We are now talking with patients and their carers about the best ways to help kidney patients incorporate healthy activity into their lifestyles.”

Work by the team has been recognised by groups including the International Society of Exercise Immunology and the 2010 Da Vinci Health Innovation awards which recognise pioneering healthcare research. , and also contributed to

Researchers are now extending the project to look at the benefits of resistance training to build up muscle strength in kidney patients, and also to study the benefits of exercise for patients on haemodialysis. This work will be part of the new Biomedical Research Unit in Diet, Nutrition and Lifestyle, for which Loughborough University, the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals were recently awarded £4.5million by the Department of Health.

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