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Exercise lowers risk of developing chronic kidney disease


Dr. Peter Kokkinos heads a cardiac exercise lab at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center.
Dr. Peter Kokkinos heads a cardiac exercise lab at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center. (Photo by Robert Turtil)

Dr. Peter Kokkinos heads a cardiac exercise lab at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center. (Photo by Robert Turtil)

A team of researchers led by Drs. Peter Kokkinos and Charles Faselis of the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center published a study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings showing that higher aerobic fitness levels lower the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The study included 5,812 middle-aged male Veterans from the medical center who were CKD-free before entering the study. The research team found that the risk of CKD was 22 percent lower for every 1-MET (metabolic equivalent) increase in exercise capacity, and that the average exercise capacity necessary to realize these health benefits was just over 6.5 METs. This level of fitness is easily achievable by middle-aged and older adults who participate in daily exercise such as brisk walking.

MedicalResearch.com published the transcript of a question-and-answer session with Kokkinos about the study. He explained that as a result of the team's findings "health care providers should advise their patients to engage regularly in moderate intensity physical activities or structured exercise programs designed to improve aerobic fitness."

"Brisk walking is the safest, most effective, and inexpensive way to increase fitness and improve health. The goal is to accumulate a total of 150-200 minutes of aerobic activity each week. This can be achieved by walking briskly 4-6 times per week, 30-40 minutes per session."

In the interview, Kokkinos emphasized that physical activity is associated with some risk of injury and even death, especially in sedentary individuals. "However, the risk of physical activity is far greater than that of physical activity, he added. The current study is part of a larger cohort, the Veterans Exercise Testing Study (VETS), which is designed to assess the association between aerobic fitness and the risk of developing CKD.


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