Physical exercise in chronic kidney disease: an empty narrative or an effective intervention?


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is growing worldwide, with increasing numbers of patients facing end-stage renal disease, high cardiovascular risk, disability and mortality. Early recognition of CKD and improvements in lifestyle are crucial for maintaining or recovering both physical function and quality of life.

It is well known that reducing sedentariness, increasing physical activity and initiating exercise programs counteract cardiovascular risk and frailty, limit deconditioning and sarcopenia, and improve mobility, without side-effects. However, these interventions, often requested by CKD patients themselves, are scarcely available. Indeed, it is necessary to identify and train specialists on exercise in CKD and to sensitize doctors and health personnel, so that they can direct patients towards an active lifestyle. On the other hand, effective and sustainable interventions, capable of overcoming patients’ barriers to exercise, remain unexplored.

Scientific societies, international research teams and administrators need to work together to avoid that exercise in nephrology remains an empty narrative, a niche interest without any translations into clinical practice, with no benefit to the physical and mental health of CKD patients.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; physical activity; exercise; quality of life; sarcopenia; disability; physical function; barriers.

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La malattia renale cronica (MRC) è una delle principali patologie endemiche non trasmissibili in continua crescita [1]: circa il 10% della popolazione mondiale ne risulta affetto, ed è associata ad un elevato rischio di morbilità e mortalità [2]. Attualmente la MRC determina circa 1,2 milioni di decessi all’anno [3,4] e si stima che entro il 2040 diventi la quinta causa più frequente di morte al livello globale [4]. Le più frequenti cause identificate di MRC sono l’ipertensione arteriosa, il diabete mellito, le glomerulonefriti e le malattie cistiche [5], anche se alcune malattie genetiche rare, tra cui la malattia di Anderson-Fabry, si stanno riscontrando con una maggiore frequenza rispetto a quella attesa [6].  

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