Exercise And Kidney Health Research Roundup

by Ryan Halvorson on Feb 11, 2014

Making News

Protecting Kidney Function

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 20 million U.S. citizens suffer from chronic kidney disease—the slow loss of kidney function—and that it is the ninth leading cause of death. Recently, researchers learned that exercise may slow kidney function decline in kidney disease patients.

Published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2013; doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013040392), the study included 256 kidney disease patients from the Seattle Kidney Study. Each participant completed a “Four-Week Physical Activity Questionnaire,” and results were compared with kidney function for a mean follow-up time of 3.7 years. In analyzing the data, researchers discovered that individuals who engaged in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week showed a significant reduction in kidney function decline. Scientists also found that “each 60-minute increment in weekly physical activity duration [was] associated with a 0.5% slower decline per year in [kidney function].”

Though physical activity was associated with reduced kidney function decline, the authors could not define a link between physical activity and prevention or reduction of end-stage kidney disease, which is complete or near-complete kidney failure.

Reducing The Risk Of Kidney Stones

Along with benefiting kidney function, regular exercise can help with another kidney-related malady: kidney stones.

A second study—also published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2013, doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013050548)—involved 84,225 postmenopausal participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Subjects had no previous history of nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones.

Researchers looked at physical activity levels, dietary intake and body mass index. Then they compared that information with kidney stone development.

According to the data, women who reported the lowest physical activity levels experienced a 16% decreased risk of kidney stones compared with inactive women. “As activity increased, the risk of incident stones continued to decline until plateauing at a decrease of approximately 31% for activity levels ≥10 METs/week,” the authors explained. There was no correlation between exercise intensity and kidney stone development.

As dietary intake increased, kidney stone risk rose by as much as 42%. Kidney stones were also more prevalent among subjects with a higher BMI.

“In summary, physical activity may reduce the risk of incident kidney stones in postmenopausal women independent of caloric intake and BMI, primarily because of the amount of activity rather than exercise intensity,” concluded the authors. “Higher caloric intake further increases the risk of incident stones.”

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 11, Issue 3

© 2014 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media (; contributing editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; director of group training at Bird Rock Fit in La ...


  • Log In to Comment
  • John Nguyen

    This doesn't show that exercise lowers the risk of incident kidney stone -- it demonstrates an inverse relationship through a correlation.
    Commented Mar 01, 2015
  • Mitch Menik

    Ryan, thank you for your contribution showing how exercise can help the body to naturally heal itself!
    Commented Mar 01, 2015

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