Kidney disease patients can benefit from lifting weights

Lifting weights can provide significant health benefits to patients suffering from kidney disease.

A new study led by Dr Emma Watson, Dr Tom Wilkinson, and Professor Alice Smith has shown that non-dialysis chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients who conducted both aerobic exercise and combined exercise for 12 weeks, 3 times a week experienced significant increases in strength, leg muscle size and cardiorespiratory fitness.

While positive changes were seen in patients just doing aerobic exercise - such as treadmill walking, cycling and rowing - the addition of resistance exercise, such as weightlifting, led to greater increases in muscle mass (9% compared to 5%) and strength (49% compared to 17%) than aerobic exercise alone.

“There is limited research on the effects of exercise in CKD patients, and a lack of knowledge on what exercise is most beneficial in this group” says Dr Tom Wilkinson from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation. “Our study shows that both aerobic exercises and strength exercises are important in CKD patients in keeping muscles strong and healthy and can be combined successfully and safely.”

“For time and logistical reasons, combining both modes of exercise - aerobic and strength - in the same session would be optimal,” added Dr Emma Watson.

The study was conducted by the Leicester Kidney Lifestyle Team and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The Leicester BRC is a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals the University of Leicester and Loughborough University.

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