HealthDay News — A simple program that includes a few minutes of walking a day appears to benefit patients on dialysis, according to research published online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Carmine Zoccali, MD, from the Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Center in Reggio Calabria, Italy, and colleagues included 296 dialysis patients who were randomly assigned to either a low-intensity exercise program or a comparison group who underwent no formal exercise program. The low-intensity regimen included 20 minutes of walking at low-to-moderate speeds every second day, with the intensity gradually increasing over 6 months.

The average distance covered during a 6-minute walking test in the exercise group gradually improved — from about 1100 feet at the start of the study to 1200 feet 6 months later. In comparison, the group without the exercise program showed no increase in walking distance. Participants who did the walking program also improved in the sit-to-stand test. Mental function also improved significantly in the exercise group compared to the control group, the researchers reported.

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“Poor physical functioning is perhaps the most pervasive and disabling disturbance in patients with advanced kidney disease who are on chronic dialysis,” Zoccali said in a journal news release. “Our study shows that simple, home-based exercise programs hold potential for improving physical functioning in dialysis patients.”

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  1. Manfredini F, Mallamaci F, D’Arrigo G, et al. Exercise in Patients on Dialysis: A Multicenter, Randomized Clinical Trial. J Am Soc Nephrol. 1 December 2016. doi:10.1681/ASN.2016030378