Several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have demonstrated the cardiometabolic effects of aerobic exercise in the general population and in patients with cardiovascular diseases. However, the efficacy of aerobic exercise in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains to be elucidated.
RCTs comparing aerobic exercise with no aerobic exercise in patients with CKD not requiring kidney replacement therapy were identified through PubMed using RobotAnalyst, a web-based software system that combines text-mining and machine learning algorithms for organizing references. Cardiometabolic and renal outcomes of interest included body mass index (BMI); systolic blood pressure (SBP); hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), total cholesterol (TCHO), low- and high- density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC and HDLC, respectively), and urinary protein (UP) levels/concentration; peak oxygen uptake (Vopeak); and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) at the end of the follow-up period. The standardized mean difference (SMD) of each outcome was estimated using the DerSimonian-Laird random-effect model with inverse-variance weighting.
A total of 15 trials, including 622 patients, were included. Their follow-up periods were 3-4, 6-12, and > 12-months in 7 (46.7%), 7 (46.7%), and 1 (6.7%) trial(s), respectively. Meta-analyses showed that aerobic exercise significantly decreased BMI (SMD, -0.19 [95% confidence interval, -0.38, -0.00]) and SBP (-0.75 [-1.24, -0.26]) and increased Vopeak (0.54 [0.29, 0.78]); however, no significant association was observed in HbA1c, TCHO, HDLC, LDLC, GFR, and UP. Meta-regression models suggested that aerobic exercise was more likely to improve Vopeak in patients with younger age, no diabetes, and lower BMI.
Aerobic exercise of 3-12 months’ duration improved obesity, high blood pressure, and low exercise capacity in overweight/obese patients with CKD, but it had no significant effect on GFR and proteinuria. Well-designed large RCTs with a longer follow-up period are needed to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic exercise in patients with CKD.

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