Chronic kidney disease (CKD) sufferers who are not on dialysis may benefit from resistance training, especially for strength and muscle mass, a study has suggested.

Weightlifting can yield positive health results for kidney patients, researchers from the University of Leicester, led by Dr Emma Watson, Dr Tom Wilkinson and Prof Alice Smith.

CKD is the gradual loss of kidney function over time. It is otherwise known as chronic renal disease. The main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure.

“There is limited research on the effects of exercise in CKD patients, and a lack of knowledge on what exercise is most beneficia lfor  in this group,” said Dr Wilkinson.

Dr Watson noted that a combination of aerobic and strength training would be a better option.

In the study, the researchers looked at 41 patients with an average age of 63, who were recruited from Leicester’s Hospitals. The participants underwent a six week control period before the exercise programme.

The researchers had the patients perform aerobic-based exercise such as treadmill, rowing or cycling (or combined) for 30 minutes three times a week for a total of 12 weeks, and then looked at the potential health benefits.

According to the research team, the addition of resistance exercise such as weightlifting led to increases in muscle mass. For instance, the aerobic group had 5 percent increase in quadriceps muscle size, but combined, the group had 9 percent increase.

As for strength, the difference between the two groups was 17 percent to 49 percent.

“I have certainly noticed that my general level of fitness changed after the extra workout and I discovered muscles that I hadn’t had for a little while,” said one of the participants, a 62-year-old male.

“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,” said Dr Wilkinson.

The study was published in the American Journal of Renal Physiology. MIMS