Get Moving For Better Kidney Health

Chronic kidney disease patients who walked for exercise had lower death and kidney replacement risks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Walking is one of the most common forms of exercise for people in the United States. For patients with chronic kidney disease, taking a walk could be a lifesaver.

A recent study found that walking was the most popular form of exercise among patients with chronic kidney disease.

The researchers discovered that walking was tied to a lower risk of death and renal replacement therapy (kidney transplant or dialysis), regardless of the kidney patient's age, kidney function and other health problems.

"Talk to your nephrologist about the benefits of walking."

The lead author of this study was Che-Yi Chou, MD, PhD, from the Kidney Institute and Division of Nephrology at China Medical University Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan.

The study included 6,363 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who were enrolled in the CKD program of China Medical University Hospital from June 2003 to May 2013.

The patients’ average age was 70 years old, and 58 percent of them were male.

A total of 2,292 (36 percent) of the patients had stage 3 CKD, 1,287 (20 percent) of the patients had stage 4 CKD, and 2,784 (44 percent) had stage 5 CKD.

Stage 3 CKD is defined as having moderately reduced kidney function, stage 4 is defined as having severely reduced kidney function, and stage 5 is defined by kidney failure. 

At enrollment, the researchers asked the patients to self-report the most common type of exercise they participated in, how many times per week they did said exercise, and the length of time per exercise session. The patients' families or caregivers then confirmed this information.

The researchers followed up with patients until renal replacement therapy (RRT), loss of follow-up, death or May 2013. The average follow-up time was 1.3 years.

The researchers determined that the death rate among patients who walked was 2.7 deaths per 100 person-years versus 5.4 deaths per 100 person-years among the patients who did not walk as their most common form of exercise.

The rate of RRT among walking patients was 22.0 cases per 100 person-years, compared with 32.9 cases per 100 person-years among the patients who did not walk for exercise.

Compared to the patients who did not walk for exercise, those who walked for exercise were 33 percent less likely to die from CKD and 21 percent less likely to start RRT.

Dr. Chou and team discovered that the risk of death and RRT decreased as the amount of times a patient walked per week increased.

Walking one to two times per week was associated with 17 percent decreased odds of dying and 19 percent decreased odds of RRT, whereas walking more than seven times per week was associated with 59 percent decreased odds of dying and 44 percent decreased odds of RRT.

"We have shown that CKD patients with [co-occurring conditions] 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," Dr. Chou said in a press statement. "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."

Dr. Chou and colleagues noted that their study limited by a lack of information on whether or not a patient needed assistance while walking, and the type, frequency and duration of exercise was only recorded at enrollment and not during follow-up.

This study was published on May 15 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Review Date: 
May 15, 2014
Last Updated:
May 15, 2014