(HealthDay News) — Aerobic exercise improves several hemodialysis-related symptoms for adults on maintenance hemodialysis, according to a review published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Nicholas Hargrove, from the Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the effect of aerobic exercise on hemodialysis-related symptoms in adults with kidney failure undergoing maintenance hemodialysis. A total of 15 randomized controlled trials met the eligibility criteria.

For most symptoms, heterogeneous interventions and outcomes and a moderate-to-high risk for bias precluded meta-analysis. The researchers found that improvement in symptoms of restless legs syndrome, muscle cramping, and fatigue was seen with aerobic exercise compared with nonexercise controls. In a meta-analysis of depressive symptoms in studies using the Beck Depression Inventory, a greater reduction in the Beck Depression Inventory score was seen with exercise versus control (mean difference, −7.57).

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“The review by Hargrove et al provides encouraging preliminary data to suggest aerobic exercise has the potential to alleviate many of the most bothersome symptoms,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “Support for large, multicenter studies to confirm the benefits of exercise and determine which exercise approaches are most beneficial and most accessible and acceptable to patients is urgently needed. It will also be crucial to focus on development of infrastructure for the delivery of effective exercise interventions.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.


Hargrove N, El Tobgy N, Zhou O, et al. Effect of aerobic exercise on dialysis-related symptoms in individuals undergoing maintenance hemodialysis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. doi:10.2215/CJN.15080920

Johansen KL. The promise and challenge of aerobic exercise in people undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. doi:10.2215/CJN.01960221