Perceptions of exercise benefits and barriers: the influence on physical activity behaviour in individuals undergoing haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis

J Nephrol. 2021 Dec;34(6):1961-1971. doi: 10.1007/s40620-021-01024-y. Epub 2021 Mar 26.


Background: Despite growing evidence about the benefits of physical activity and exercise in patients receiving dialysis, physical inactivity is highly prevalent. This may be due to uncertainty and lack of appropriate guidance about exercise, or driven by the relative barriers and benefits that patients perceive. Understanding these perceptions in dialysis patients may inform interventions aimed to increase exercise participation.

Methods: Perceived benefits and barriers to exercise were measured by the 'Dialysis Patient-perceived Exercise Benefits and Barriers Scale' (DPEBBS). Self-reported physical activity status was assessed by the 'General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire'. Barriers and benefits to exercise were classed as binary variables (i.e. yes and no). Frequency analyses and chi-squared tests were conducted to compare the differences perceived by people on haemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD). Binominal logistical regression was performed to determine which perceived barriers and benefits had the biggest impact on physical activity status.

Results: One thousand twenty-two HD and 124 PD patients completed the DPEBBS. A greater proportion of HD than PD patients reported 'reduces body pain' (P = 0.013), 'delays decline in body function' (P = 0.01), and 'improves quality of life' (P = 0.033) as benefits of exercise. No differences in barriers were observed. Tiredness was the most reported barrier to exercise. Patients who perceived 'other comorbidities' (OR 3.389, P < 0.001) or 'burden of family' (OR 3.168, P < 0.001) as barriers were 3 times more likely to be inactive.

Conclusions: Dialysis patients perceive several barriers which may prevent them from engaging in physical activity. Addressing these barriers may be key to increasing participation in physical activity and exercise.

Keywords: Barriers; Benefits; Dialysis; Exercise; Physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Peritoneal Dialysis* / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects
  • Sedentary Behavior