Participants of the study were 4,508 patients with chronic kidney disease between 2004 and 2017 who were not on dialysis. They were then categorized into three groups based on their weekly physical activity – highly active (WHO minimum or more – 1,915 patients), low-active (less than the WHO minimum – 879), or inactive (no activity – 1,714).
During a follow-up after 686 days, researchers discovered that 739 patients had died, 1,059 had developed end-stage renal disease, and 521 had a major adverse cardiovascular event.
Researchers then analyzed the association between physical activity and adverse outcomes after adjusting for other potentially influencing factors.
Findings revealed that patients from the highly active group had a 38% lower risk of death, 17% lower risk of end-stage renal disease, and 37% lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events than those from the inactive group. Results for the low-active group were not statistically significant.
The activity levels were reassessed six months after the first measurement to see the impact of changing usual exercise habits. Results showed that the risk of death and cardiovascular events increased two-folds in highly active patients who became sedentary than those who stayed highly active, highlighting the importance of maintaining physical activity to sustain the benefits.
Professor Der-Cherng Tarng, study author, said, “Our results suggest that physical activity should be integrated into the clinical care of patients with kidney disease.”
This was the first large-scale study to examine the physical activity’s association with kidney disease progression, particularly the links between exercise and end-stage renal disease, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events in kidney disease patients.
Dr. Wei-Cheng Tseng, study author, pointed out that the likelihood of cardiovascular events did not decrease further once activity surpassed double the WHO minimum.
He adds, “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.”