CHRONIC kidney disease (CKD) patients can significantly ease their symptoms and enhance their quality of life by engaging in both aerobic and strength-based exercises, according to a new study by the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals, Leicester, UK.
Enhanced Quality of Life
Combining aerobic and strength training exercises was shown to substantially reduce symptoms such as fatigue and stiffness, leading to major improvements in quality of life. Dr Tom Wilkinson, University of Leicester, commented: “Patients with CKD experience many unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue and pain. We know that, in general, exercise improves physical fitness levels and strength but until now we had little evidence that exercise also has a significant positive effect on symptoms in this patient group, as well as their self-reported quality of life.”
For the study, 36 non-dialysis CKD patients were divided into two groups, one of which focussed solely on aerobic exercises such as walking and cycling, while the other undertook both aerobic and strength training exercises, such as leg presses. The exercises were completed three-times a week over a 12-week period, with difficulty levels increasing as the participants became fitter and stronger.
The affect of these exercise regimens on the patient’s symptoms were assessed by a kidney-specific symptom questionnaire created by the researchers. In these, the patients self-reported the extent to which 11 different symptoms impact their lives.
A 17% reduction in the total number of symptoms was found across both exercise groups. There were reductions of between 10% and 16% for fatigue and especially large reductions were seen for shortness of breath and itching, at 40% and 35%, respectively. In the participants who also took part in strength training, muscle strength and power were enhanced by 41%, while these patients additionally reported that they felt less weak and had fewer muscle spasms and episodes of stiffness.
“We have now shown that exercise has positive benefits on patients’ reported symptoms. These include sleep problems, weakness, muscle spasms, and restless legs. To maximise the health benefits, patients should undertake both aerobic and strength training exercises,” explained Dr Wilkinson.
The authors also noted that physical exercise has other benefits for CKD patients, including improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetic control. They caution, however, that CKD patients should first consult their doctor before beginning a training programme.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.