Exercise may help those from poor backgrounds reduce risk of chronic kidney disease

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New research has found white men from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who regularly exercise could substantially reduce their risk of chronic kidney disease. 

The study was published in The American Journal of Medicine, and conducted by researchers at Bristol Medical School at the University of Bristol in England. Through their investigation, they sought to answer three questions:

  • Is low socioeconomic status associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease?
  • Are high levels of physical fitness associated with a reduced risk of chronic kidney disease?
  • Can high levels of physical fitness counteract the effects of low socioeconomic status on chronic kidney disease?

The research team recruited 2,099 men aged 42 to 61 years old living in eastern Finland without a history of kidney disease and assessed their socioeconomic status using self-administered questionnaires based on income, education, occupation, standard of living, and housing conditions. Physical fitness was assessed using an exercise test on a bicycle ergometer.

Participants were then followed over a 20-year period for the development of chronic kidney disease. Analysis of the results showed that men with low socioeconomic status had an increased risk and those with high levels of physical fitness had a reduced risk of chronic kidney disease. The risk of chronic kidney disease was substantially increased in those with both low socioeconomic status and low levels of physical fitness. However, the risk did not seem to exist in those with low socioeconomic status and high levels of physical fitness.

“Regular physical activity is a powerful strategy than can reduce the risk of disease across all organ systems in the human body including the kidneys,” said Setor Kunutsor, PhD, lead author and senior lecturer in evidence synthesis at the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences in a statement. “Despite the benefits of physical activity being widely promoted, regular exercise is still low across the world. More needs to be done to promote physical activity participation across all populations regardless of age, gender, disability, and socioeconomic status.”

According to the authors, further studies are needed to show if the associations demonstrated in the study are causal. Additional research is also needed to find out the amount and intensity of physical activity for the prevention of chronic kidney disease.