Kidney Stone Cases On The Rise In Women, Exercise May Help Reduce The Risk
December 14, 2013

Exercise May Help Reduce The Risk Of Kidney Stones

Rebekah Eliason for - Your Universe Online

According to a recent study, small amounts of physical activity may decrease a person’s risk for developing kidney stones. The researchers also discovered that eating too many calories can increase the risk.

Research from the last decade has shown that, contrary to previous thought, kidney stones are a systemic problem. The connection to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease has shown that the mechanism for stone formation is farther reaching than just the kidneys. Since stone formation has significantly increased, most notably among women, researchers have put more efforts into learning how to reduce the risk of stone formation.

Matthew Sorensen, MD of the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Puget Sound Department of Veterans Affairs performed a study along with his colleagues to determine if calorie intake and energy expenditure are related to kidney stone formation.

The study consisted of 84,224 participants who were postmenopausal women that participated in the Women’s Health Initiative. The initiative has been gathering information about women’s dietary intake and physical activity levels since the 1990s.

Researchers adjusted for factors such as body mass index and discovered that physical activity decreased the risk for developing kidney stones by 31 percent. Dr. Sorensen said, "Even small amounts of exercise may decrease the risk of kidney stones—it does not need to be marathons, as the intensity of the exercise does not seem to matter.”

To achieve the maximum benefit from exercise, women performed 10 metabolic equivalents per week. That would be similar to three hours of average walking (2-3 mph), four hours of light gardening or one hour of moderate jogging (6 mph).

In addition, the researchers found that people who consumed over 2200 calories a day increased their risk of developing stones by as much as 42 percent. Also, obesity was shown to be a contributing factor for kidney stone formation.

“Being aware of calorie intake, watching their weight, and making efforts to exercise are important factors for improving the health of our patients overall, and as it relates to kidney stones,” said Dr. Sorensen.

John Lieske, MD of the Mayo Clinic noted in an accompanying editorial that this study should be replicated in other populations than postmenopausal women. In addition, Lieske postulated that women who exercise might also have other healthy habits that aid in decreasing stone formation risk.

Lieske explained, “Nevertheless, conservative (nonpharmacologic) counseling for patients with stones often centers almost exclusively on diet, stressing increased fluid intake, normal dietary calcium, lower sodium, moderate protein, and reduced dietary oxalate. The results of Sorensen et al. suggest that a recommendation for moderate physical activity might reasonably be added to the mix.”

This study was recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.