Walking may have profound benefits for patients with kidney disease

For individuals with kidney disease, walking may help prolong life and reduce the risk of needing dialysis or a kidney transplant. That's the conclusion of a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

Physical inactivity is common among with chronic (CKD). Che-Yi Chou MD, PhD, Chiz-Tzung Chang, PhD (China Medical University Hospital, in Taiwan) and their colleagues looked to see if an activity as simple as walking might provide benefits to patients. The researchers studied all 6,363 patients with CKD stages 3 to 5 in the CKD program of China Medical University Hospital from June 2003 to May 2013. Patients were an average of 70 years old, and they were followed for an average of 1.3 years.

Just over 21% of patients reported walking as their most common form of exercise. During follow-up, those who walked were 33% less likely to die and 21% less likely to need or a . The more patients walked, the more they benefited. Compared with those who did not walk, patients who walked 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and ≥ 7 times per week were 17%, 28%, 58%, and 59% less likely to die during the study, respectively. They were also 19%, 27%, 43%, and 44% less likely to need dialysis or a transplant.

The researchers found that the presence of other, or comorbid, conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes was similar between walking and non-walking patients.

"We have shown that CKD patients with comorbidities were able to walk if they wanted to, and that walking for exercise is associated with improved patient survival and a lower risk of dialysis," said Dr. Chou. "A minimal amount of walking—just once a week for less than 30 minutes—appears to be beneficial, but more frequent and longer walking may provide a more beneficial effect."

More information: The article, entitled "Association of Walking with Survival and Renal Replacement Therapy among Patients with CKD Stages 3-5," will appear online at cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on May 15, 2014.

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