Physical Activity in the Prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease

Cardiorenal Med. 2011;1(3):164-173. doi: 10.1159/000329929. Epub 2011 Jul 25.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality. The increase in CKD in recent decades has paralleled increases in obesity, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome. Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor that may affect the development and course of CKD. It is well established that exercise training improves a number of metabolic factors, including blood pressure and insulin resistance, which would be expected to preserve renal function as well as lower CVD risk. Epidemiological studies have suggested that partaking in vigorous physical activity may protect against kidney disease. However, to date few studies have rigorously measured physical activity levels. Instead, investigators have relied on subjective measures of physical activity and patient recall. This is particularly problematic when attempting to capture low- and very-low-intensity physical activity and in quantifying sedentary behavior. Improvements in vascular endothelial function, insulin sensitivity, adipocytokine profiles, and oxidative stress likely mediate the benefits of physical activity on the kidney. While formal exercise recommendations have been published for diabetes and hypertension, guidelines regarding the optimal type, frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity for preventing CKD have yet to be formalized.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Chronic kidney disease; Diabetes; Exercise; Obesity; Physical activity; Renal function.