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May 16, 2014 07:22 AM EDT

Walking Benefits Kidney Disease Patients, Study

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Chinese researchers have discovered benefits of physical activity in kidney disease patients.

Researchers from the China Medical University Hospital, Taiwan, have found that regular walking lowered the risk of premature death and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Physical inactivity is deemed a clinical problem among 60 million people worldwide with chronic kidney disease.

For the study, the researchers followed 6,363 Taiwanese patients, with an average age of 70 years, for 1.3 years. Walking was a common form of exercise for only about 21 percent of the participants.

The researchers found that those who walked everyday were 33 percent more likely to live longer and 21 per cent less likely to require dialysis or a kidney transplant as compared to those who did not walk at all.

The more they walked, the more benefits they gained. People who walked seven times a week or more cut their risk of dying by 59 percent and 44 percent less likely to need dialysis or a transplant than those who were inactive.

When researchers compared the benefits of routine walking between active and inactive participants, they found that those who walked one or two, three or four, five or six and seven or more times per week were 17 percent, 28 percent, 58 percent, and 59 percent less likely to die, respectively. They were also associated with a 19 per cent, 27 per cent, 43 per cent, and 44 percent reduced risk of dialysis or a transplant.

Even though enhanced benefits were observed in patients associated with regular walking, both walkers and non-walkers were more likely to suffer from other health or comorbid conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes problems.

"We have shown that patients of chronic kidney disease 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," said Doctor Che-Yi Chou, 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."

The finding is published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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