Walking regularly benefits physical, mental health of dialysis patients

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Even walking for 20 minutes every day can significantly boost the quality of life of dialysis patients, say researchers.

Scientists made 296 dialysis patients undergo a normal physical activity or a low intensity exercise program — 20 minutes of walking at low-moderate speed every second day — and gradually increased the intensity over 6 months.

After 6 months, the distance covered during a 6-minute walking test improved in the exercise group (average distance: baseline 328 m; 6 months 367 m) but not in the control group (baseline 321 m; 6 months 324 m).

The process of dialysis.

Similarly, the 5 times sit-to-stand test time improved in the exercise group average time: baseline 20.5 seconds; 6 months 18.2 seconds) but not in the control group (baseline 20.9 seconds; 6 months 20.2 seconds).

Cognitive function and quality of scores improved significantly in the exercise arm compared with the control arm.

“Poor physical functioning is perhaps the most pervasive and disabling disturbance in patients with advanced kidney disease who are on chronic dialysis,” said lead researcher Zoccali.

Adding, “While the effect of regular physical exercise training on physical performance in selected dialysis patients studied in standardised experimental settings in the laboratory is well documented, how exercise training should be articulated and implemented still remains an open problem. Our study shows that simple, home-based exercise programs hold potential for improving physical functioning in dialysis patients.”

The study was published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology (JASN).