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Walking Could Help Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Live Longer

Taking regular walks could help people with chronic kidney disease live longer, a new study suggests.

Walking was associated with a decreased risk of death, as well as a decreased risk of needing a kidney transplant or dialysis, among people with chronic kidney disease, according to the new findings published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The study is based on 6,363 people, at an average age of 70, with stage 3 to 5 chronic kidney disease who were patients at the China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan between 2003 and 2013. The researchers followed the patients for an average of 1.3 years to see the walking habits of the patients.

About one in five patients said that walking was their most common kind of exercise. The researchers found an association between frequency of walking and risk of death, dialysis or transplant over the study period.

For instance, people who walked one to two times a week had a 17 percent lower risk of dying and a 19 percent lower risk of needing dialysis or transplant over the study period, compared with those who didn't walk. Meanwhile, those who walked seven or more times a week had a 59 percent lower risk of death and a 44 percent lower risk of needing dialysis or transplant over the study period.

"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," study researcher Dr. Che-Yi Chou, M.D., of China Medical University Hospital, said in a statement.

Chronic kidney disease affects 26 million people in the U.S., and involves the loss of kidney function. This is dangerous because fluid, waste and electrolytes will start to build up in the body when the kidneys are no longer able to filter these products from the blood.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with chronic kidney disease should try to abide by a diet without added salt, and should also try to limit potassium and protein intake.