Sitting for long periods of time is associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD), and men are more likely to offset negative effects with exercise, according to a study in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

In a cross-sectional, population-level analysis across 20 family practices, lead researcher Thomas Yates, MD, and colleagues at the University of Leicester in the U.K. found that lower levels of sitting time were associated with a lower risk of CKD in 5,650 people aged 40-75 after adjusting for variables such as physical activity and BMI.

In addition, they found that the chances of developing CKD in women who reported under three hours of sitting time compared with  those who reported more than eight hours were reduced by 30%, whereas the chances were reduced by 15% in men under the same conditions. However, while 30 minutes of walking per day lowered the likelihood of CKD development in men by 30% compared with those who were inactive, physical activity did not significantly impact CKD results in women.

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“In terms of kidney function, traditional moderate-to-vigorous intense physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging or running on the treadmill may be more important for men, whereas reducing prolonged periods of sitting time may be more important for women,” Dr. Yates said.

The study is the first of its kind to demonstrate a link between sitting time independent of exercise with kidney disease.