The kidneys serve an important function in filtering the blood. Patients with severe kidney disease or kidney failure don’t have the ability to clean their blood. This condition is known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and often requires hemodialysis that cleans the blood with a machine. In 2006, over 500,000 Americans had ESRD, with over 350,000 requiring dialysis.

Dialysis patients often have reduced physical function and quality of life because of their disease complications and lack of physical activity. Unfortunately, there is little research on exercise in dialysis patients. Researchers performed a multi-center randomized controlled trial in Spain to determine the effects of a resistance training program with ankle weights and elastic bands.

27 hemodialysis patients were randomly assigned to a resistive-exercise group or a low-level aerobic exercise group. Both groups, supervised by physiotherapists, exercised 3 times a week for 6 months. Each session included 5 minutes of stretching as part of warm-up and cool down, and 25 minutes of either resistance training or stationary bike riding. The resistance training group performed training at an RPE of 12-14, and emphasized lower extremity exercise.

At the end of the study,  the resistance training group significantly increased in physical function compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that an exercise program including elastic resistance and ankle cuff weights was safe and effective for hemodialysis patients.

Segura-Ortí E, Kouidi E, Lisón JF. Effect of resistance exercise during hemodialysis on physical function and quality of life: randomized controlled trial. Clin Nephrol. 2009 May;71(5):527-37.

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