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Exercise shown to improve symptoms of patients with chronic kidney disease.

Just 12 weeks of aerobic and strength-based exercise reduces symptoms and levels of fatigue in patients with chronic kidney disease, a study in Leicester has found.

The study was carried out by Leicester’s Hospitals and University of Leicester Kidney Lifestyle Team, led by Professor Alice Smith.

The researchers randomly divided 36 non-dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease into two groups. The first group completed aerobic exercises, such as walking and cycling. The second group was given strength training exercises, such as leg presses, in addition to the aerobic activities. Exercises were completed three times per week for the duration of the study. The difficulty of the exercises was increased as the patients got fitter and stronger.

Across both groups, the total number of symptoms was reduced by 17 per cent, with large improvements seen in fatigue, with reductions between 10 and 16 per cent. Performing aerobic exercise reduced the symptom ‘shortness of breath’ by 40 per cent, and ‘itching’ by 35 per cent.

By adding strength training exercises, participants reported an increase in ‘muscle strength and power’ by 41 per cent, as well as feeling less weak and having fewer muscle spasms and episodes of stiffness.

Dr. Tom Wilkinson, from the University of Leicester’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, said: “Patients with chronic kidney disease 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 on their self-reported quality of life.

“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.”

Study was reported in Clinical Kidney Journal 2018.

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