‘Dialysis patients may walk their way to better health’
Even people with advanced kidney trouble can feel better with ‘low-intensity’ regimen, says study
A new study has found that improved mental and physical health may just be steps away for people on kidney dialysis.
A simple programme that includes a few minutes of walking a day appears to benefit these patients, a team of Italian researchers concluded.
According to the study authors, prior research has shown that exercise has a positive impact on dialysis patients.
The study was published December 1 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
In the new study, researchers led by Dr. Carmine Zoccali wanted to see if that was true for even simple activities, such as walking. Zoccali is from the Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Center in Reggio Calabria, Italy.
Their research included 296 dialysis patients who were randomly assigned to either a low-intensity exercise program, or a comparison group who underwent no formal exercise program.
The “low-intensity” regimen included 20 minutes of walking at low-to-moderate speeds every second day, with the intensity gradually increasing over six months.
The average distance covered during a six-minute walking test in the exercise group gradually improved — from about 1,100 feet at the start of the study to 1,200 feet six months later.
In comparison, the group without the exercise program showed no increase in walking distance, the researchers said.
People who did the walking programme also improved in what’s known as the “sit-to-stand” test — a standard test designed to assess lower-body strength in older adults.
Mental function also improved significantly in the exercise group compared to the control group, the researchers reported.
When the intensity of the exercise was investigated, for some sports, the higher the intensity, the greater the positive influence on longevity. But, for other activities, there was a U-shaped curve – lesser intensity was more beneficial than higher intensity or no activity at all.
Although the intensity findings are intriguing, the authors warn that this part of the analysis included only a small number of deaths, making the findings tentative; further investigation is necessary to firm them up.
Also, the findings are based on an observational study, meaning that cause and effect can not be concluded. Regardless of this, the findings add further weight to the already weighty hypothesis that exercise reduces mortality and that any sport is better than no sport.
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