Weight Lifting Benefits Chronic Kidney Disease

Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) often find the muscles in their legs get weaker and smaller and that everyday tasks such as walking and getting out of a chair get harder.

The reasons for this are complicated, but are the result of their failing kidneys. We know that in the general population exercise with weights (or resistance exercise) helps build muscle, but it is not known if it can also help build muscle in CKD patients.

To study this, we asked a group of patients to come to the hospital three times a week for eight weeks to do some weight lifting with their legs. To be able to see how much the exercise had helped them, we measured the size and strength of the legs muscles and how far patients we able to walk before and then again after the eight weeks of resistance exercise. The results showed that after eight weeks the size and strength of the leg muscles increased and patients could also walk further.

This last result was surprising because the patients did not actually do any walking exercise in this study and suggests muscle wasting and weakness is an important reason as to why walking gets harder. Exercise of any type is not currently offered or available to CKD patients in the hospital as it is for other patient groups. These results really show the important benefits CKD patients can get from a small amount of exercise and highlights the need for it to be included in their usual care.