Man Walking with Woman

We all know that exercise and fitness is beneficial to the human body and mind in many ways. Exercise helps keep your blood pressure low and reduces risk of obesity. Now a new study is suggesting that physical activity helps decrease kidney stone risk in women.

The study was published Dec. 12 online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle evaluated 84,225 postmenopausal women with no history of kidney stones, or nephrolithiasis. The women participated in the study from 1993 to 1998, and were followed for a median of eight years.

Results showed that women with low physical activity levels had decreased their risk of kidney stones by 16%, compared to the risk in women who did not exercise at all. The more exercise the women had, the more the risk of kidney stones declined. The decreased risk peaked at 31% for activity levels greater than 10 METs (metabolic equivalents) per week. Ten METs/week equals to approximately three hours of walking at a steady pace (2-3 mph), four hours of light garden work, or one hour of moderate jogging (6 mph), according to the American Society of Nephrology (ASN).

The intensity of the exercise did not seem to play a role in the development of kidney stones.

“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,” noted Dr. Mathew D. Sorensen, lead author of the study.

However, the caloric intake seemed to have an effect on the risk of developing kidney stones. The researchers found that consuming more than 2,200 calories per day raised the risk of kidney stones by up to 42%. Consuming less than 1,800 calories per day did not protect against stone formation.