July: Exercise and the risk of chronic kidney disease | News and Features

New research has shown that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who exercise regularly could significantly reduce their risk of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is linked to poor quality of life and an increased risk of death. Its treatment is also associated with high healthcare costs, with diabetes and hypertension being major contributing factors to the disease.

Although people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are at greater risk of chronic kidney disease, it is unclear whether high levels of physical fitness can reduce the impact of low socioeconomic status on chronic kidney disease. . The study, conducted by the University of Bristol and published in the The American Journal of Medicinesought to answer three questions.

  1. Is low socioeconomic status associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease?
  2. Are high levels of physical fitness associated with a reduced risk of chronic kidney disease?
  3. Can high levels of fitness counteract the effects of low socioeconomic status on chronic kidney disease?

The research team recruited 2,099 men aged 42 to 61 with no history of kidney disease and assessed their socioeconomic status using self-administered questionnaires based on income, education, occupation, standard of living and housing conditions. Physical fitness was assessed using a stress test on a bicycle ergometer, which measures an individual’s work and energy during physical exercise.

The participants were then followed over a period of 20 years for the development of chronic kidney disease. Analysis of the results showed that men of low socioeconomic status had an increased risk of chronic kidney disease and those with good physical condition had a reduced risk of chronic kidney disease. The risk of chronic kidney disease was significantly increased in people with both low socioeconomic status and low physical fitness. However, the risk did not appear to exist in people of low socioeconomic status and high level of physical fitness.

There is substantial evidence that regular physical activity and/or exercise can reduce the risk of disease. The study results suggest that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who exercise regularly can significantly reduce their risk of chronic kidney disease. Physical activity can protect against many health problems, but it’s widely reported that most people don’t meet recommended physical activity guidelines.

Dr Setor Kunutsor, Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis at Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and lead author, said: “Regular physical activity is a powerful strategy that can reduce the risk of disease in all organ systems of the human body Although the benefits of physical activity are widely promoted, regular exercise is still low around the world.There is still much to be done to promote participation in physical activity in all populations, regardless of age, gender, disability and socio-economic status.

People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to lack access to physical activity resources. The research team suggests there is an urgent need for policy makers/stakeholders to invest in resources that promote physical activity across sectors and address inequities in physical activity participation.

The team’s findings do not prove cause and effect and further studies are needed to show whether the associations demonstrated in the study are causal. There are no published physical activity guidelines for the prevention of chronic kidney disease, but they do exist for people at high risk for diabetes and/or high blood pressure. Further research is needed to determine the amount and intensity of physical activity for the prevention of chronic kidney disease.

Paper

“High fitness levels offset increased risk of chronic kidney disease due to low socioeconomic status: a prospective study” by Setor K. Kunutsor et al in The American Journal of Medicine [open access]

More information

About the American Journal of Medicine
The‌‌‌‌American Journal of Medicine‌‌‌‌is‌ the official journal of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, a prestigious group comprising chairs from internal medicine departments at more than 125 medical schools across the United States.

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