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Journal Archive > 2002 > March

Weight training helps kidney disease sufferers

While diets low in protein can help slow the progression of kidney disease, that lack of protein further exacerbates the muscle wasting caused by the disease. However, a new Tufts study has found that weight training helps kidney disease patients maintain or even increase their muscle mass.

It is difficult for the kidneys to filter foods high in protein, so limiting protein intake is helpful, said Dr. Carmen Castaneda-Sceppa, a researcher in the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. But limiting protein intake is not the best treatment, she said, partly because it can speed muscle loss.

In Castaneda-Sceppa's study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 14 patients ages 50 and older who had moderate kidney disease lifted weights for 45 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks while following a low-protein diet. Another 12 patients followed the diet but did not exercise with weights.

Muscle strength increased by a third in the weight-lifting group, while those in the diet-only group lost 13 percent of their muscle mass, according to the study.