Walking is one of the simplest things to do that can have a positive outcome on your health and longevity — and new research shows that it’s especially beneficial to chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.
Chronic kidney disease, or chronic renal failure, affects nearly 26 million Americans. It’s characterized by a slow loss of kidney function, or the organs’ gradual inability to remove waste or excess water from the body. CKD can lead to high blood pressure, anemia, nerve damage, and overall poor nutritional health — and its final stage is end-stage renal disease (ESRD), or complete kidney failure. At this point, a CKD patient would require dialysis or else a kidney transplant in order to live.
Researchers from the China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan wanted to see if exercise could in any way improve the condition of patients with CKD, since symptoms of the disease include fatigue and a reduction in physical activity. After reviewing a total of 6,363 CKD patients who were all about 70 years old, researchers found that people who walked for exercise were 21 percent less likely to require dialysis or a kidney transplant. And they were 33 percent less likely to die in comparison with patients who didn’t take part in weekly walking.
“We have shown that CKD patients with comorbidities were able to walk if they wanted to, and that walking for exercise is associated with improved patient survival and a lower risk of dialysis,” Dr. Che-Yi Chou, co-leader of the study, said in a press release. “A minimal amount of walking — just once a week for less than 30 minutes — appears to be beneficial, but more frequent and longer walking may provide a more beneficial effect.” Perhaps not surprisingly, patients who walked more frequently had a lesser chance of dying — those who walked one to two times a week were 17 percent less likely to die than those who never walked, and people who walked more frequently (seven times a week) were 59 percent less likely to die.
“Anything that raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping is a workout for your heart and circulatory system,” personal trainer Stuart Amory told Tesco Living. Walking has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as stroke by up to 27 percent, according to the Stroke Association. Walking can also cut your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, cancer, asthma, and various other chronic diseases. Other studies have shown that walking at a quicker pace is the best way to hone in on walking’s benefits: sustaining rather vigorous physical activity for a longer amount of time will help you reap the health effects that are good for your circulatory system, kidneys, and even mental health.