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Walking May Prolong Life For Kidney Disease Patients and 4 More Benefits

Walking 30 minutes a week improves outcomes for patients with CKD

Researchers from the China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan found that walking less than 30 minutes a week can help patients with CKD live longer.

The research team analyzed the data of 6,363 Taiwanese CKD patients with an average age of 70 between June 2003 and May 2013. The patients were between stages 3 and 5 of chronic kidney disease and were followed for an average of 1.3 years. Walking was the most common form of exercise among 21 percent of patients, and the researchers found, overall, patients who walked were 21 percent less likely to need dialysis or a kidney transplant. They were also 33 percent less likely to die.

The researchers also found that the more walking the patients did, the less likely they were to die, with patients who walked seven times or more a week 59 percent less likely to die. CKD patients who walked seven times or more a week were also 44 percent less likely to need dialysis or kidney transplant.

"A minimal amount of walking -- just once a week for less than 30 minutes -- appears to be beneficial, but more frequent and longer walking may provide a more beneficial effect," said study co-author Dr. Che-Yi Chou.

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There are several other benefits of walking.

Walking increases creative thinking
– Earlier this month, researchers from Stanford University found that walkers scored an average of 60 percent higher on divergent thinking – also called lateral thinking -- creativity than when they were sitting. Divergent thinking is a thought process that is used to generate creative ideas by exploring several solutions.

Leisurely walking lowers breast cancer risk – A 2013 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that women who walked leisurely for one hour a day had a 14 percent lower risk of getting breast cancer.

Brisk walking slows progression of prostate cancer
– In a 2011 study of 1,455 U.S. men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, researchers found a 60 percent lower risk of recurrence and need for a second round of treatment for those who walked briskly at least three hours a week.

Frequent walking breaks control blood sugar – A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that scheduling a walking break every 20 minutes reduced glucose and insulin levels in diabetics.

For easy ways to walk more during the day, you can:

  • Park your car further away from building entrances
  • Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • Take a walk during your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk
  • Set a walking alarm or reminder on your phone to go off every 20-30 minutes
  • Use a pedometer and set a daily goal, increasing the number of steps you take each day

Source: Chen IR et al. Association of Walking with Survival and RRT Among Patients with CKD Stages 3–5. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2014 May 15. pii: CJN.09810913.

[Photo credit: Burim/Wikimedia Commons]