Background: Significant health benefits result from regular physical activity, many which are important for transplant recipients. Although exercise capacity improves initially after transplant, it is not normalized, and only two studies have reported the effects of exercise training in this population. We report a randomized clinical trial of exercise after renal transplantation (RTX).
Methods: One hundred sixty-seven patients were randomized at 1 month after RTX into two groups: exercise intervention (EX) and usual care (UC), with repeat testing at 6 and 12 months. Ninety-five patients completed the following testing at both testing times: symptom-limited treadmill testing with measurement of peak oxygen uptake (peak Vo2); isokinetic muscle testing for muscle strength; and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans for body composition. The SF-36 Health Status Questionnaire assessed self-reported functioning. The exercise intervention consisted of individually prescribed programs to be conducted at home with regular phone follow-up to enhance adherence. Repeated measures analysis of variance was performed to determine differences between the groups for the three testing times.
Results: At 1 year 67% of the EX group were exercising regularly compared with 36% of the UC group (P=0.01). Compared with the UC group, the EX group had significantly greater gains in peak Vo2 (P=0.016), percent age-predicted Vo2 (P=0.03), and muscle strength (P=0.05), and a trend toward higher self-reported physical functioning (P=0.06). There were no differences between the groups in changes in body composition. At 1 year, peak Vo2 was significantly correlated with age, percent fat, muscle strength, hematocrit, and self-reported physical functioning.
Conclusions: Exercise training after RTX results in higher levels of measured and self-reported physical functioning; however, exercise alone does not affect body composition.