Lifting weights can provide significant health benefits to the 31 million Americans suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a new study from the U.K.’s University of Leicester. Researchers found that patients with non-dialysis kidney disease can gain significant increases in strength, leg muscle size, and cardiorespiratory fitness by engaging in exercise, including lifting weights, three times a week for 12 weeks.
Although encouraging changes were seen in patients who only participated in 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 percent compared to 5 percent) and strength (49 percent compared to 17 percent) 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 University of Leicester’s 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.”
Patients underwent a six-week control period before starting the exercise program to observe if there were any natural changes in strength, fitness, and muscle. Since no changes were seen, any improvement after the exercise period would be due to the exercise.
Patients then participated in 12 weeks of supervised aerobic based exercise (treadmill, rowing or cycling exercise) for 30 minutes, or combined training (aerobic exercise plus leg extension and leg press exercise) performed three times week. Researchers then analyzed the potential health benefits.
“I have certainly noticed that my general level of fitness changed after the extra CKD and I discovered muscles that I hadn’t had for a little while,” said a male patient, 62 years old, who took part in the study.
Those with CKD might want to add more coffee to their diets. A recent study of more than 2,300 Americans with CKD found that those who drank the most caffeinated drinks lowered their risk of dying by 24 percent when compared to those who drank the least.
“These results suggest that advising patients with CKD to drink more caffeine may reduce their mortality,” said researcher Dr. Miquel Bigotte Vieira. “This would represent a simple, clinically beneficial, and inexpensive option.”
Those with kidney disease may also want to skip heartburn meds called protein pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are drugs used to treat GERD, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers since they may influence kidney disease. Studies conducted at Johns Hopkins University found that people with normal kidney function who regularly used PPIs were up to 50 percent more likely to develop CKD than non-users.
Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S.