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J Nephrol. 2011 Nov-Dec;24(6):790-7. doi: 10.5301/JN.2011.6386.

Implementation of exercise training programs in a hemodialysis unit: effects on physical performance.

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Rehabilitation Medicine Unit, Pescia Hospital, Pescia, Italy.



Exercise training is beneficial for hemodialysis patients, but it should be tailored to individual abilities and willingness to participate. This study evaluated the effects of different 6-month programs of physical activity in 18 patients of a single hemodialysis unit.


Before and after a 12-month control period (T0), and following 3 (T3) and 6 (T6) months of training, the patients underwent the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) and constant treadmill test at 3 km/hour speed and 10% grade; spontaneous physical activity was assessed by pedometers. All patients trained for coordination, flexibility and muscular strengthening for 30 minutes within the first 2 hours of hemodialysis sessions: 9 patients underwent home exercise walking training (advised walking group [AWG]); the other 9 patients underwent the advised home training program plus an additional supervised gym training session, twice weekly (supervised walking group [SWG]).


In both AWG and SWG, no changes occurred during the control period (232 ± 204 m and 248 ± 187 m at T0). In contrast, endurance performance at treadmill increased at T3 and T6 in the AWG (377 ± 272 m and 615 ± 413 m; p<0.01) and in the SWG (424 ± 272 m and 890 ± 364 m; p<0.001). No unwanted side effects occurred.


This study shows that physical exercise programs can safely increase physical performance in hemodialysis patients. The training program should be continued for at least 6 months to increase muscle strength and endurance. Intradialytic exercise and home-based, pedometer-based regimens may be a useful and easy approach, whereas supervised programs can give additional benefits in motivated, selected patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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