Women have another reason to exercise: It may help prevent kidney stones. They don’t have to break a sweat either. Even walking for a couple of hours a week can cut the risk of developing this painful and common problem by about one-third, a large study found.
“Every little bit makes a difference” and the intensity doesn’t matter — just getting a minimum amount of exercise does, said Dr. Mathew Sorensen of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
About 9 percent of people will get a kidney stone sometime in their life. Obesity raises the risk as do calcium supplements, which many women take after menopause.
The new research involved nearly 85,000 women 50 and older in the government-funded Women’s Health Initiative study. All had an exam to measure weight and height so doctors could figure out their body mass index. They also filled out annual surveys on what they ate, so researchers could take into account things known to lower the risk of kidney stones, such as drinking a lot of fluids and eating less salt or meat.
Participants said how much exercise they usually got and that was translated into “METs” — a measure of how much effort an activity takes. For example, 10 METs per week is about 2 1/2 hours of walking at a moderate pace, four hours of light gardening or one hour of jogging.
After about eight years, 3 percent of the women had developed a kidney stone. Compared to women who got no leisure-time exercise, those who got up to five METs per week had a 16 percent lower risk for stones. The risk was 22 percent lower with five to 10 METs per week and 31 percent lower for 10 METs or more. Exercise beyond 10 METs added no additional benefit for kidney stone prevention. Exercise intensity didn’t matter — just how much women got each week.
— Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press