Dialysis patients get on exercise bikes for new study

Kidney dialysis patients at Salford Royal are getting on their bikes and exercising while they’re being treated.

They are taking part in a research study to look at the effects of exercise on their health and quality of life.

The PEDAL trial builds on previous research showing that people with chronic kidney disease who take part in exercise programmes can improve their mobility, health and well-being.

But like many of us, people who have kidney failure can find it difficult to keep up a fitness regime – even when we know that regular exercise is better for us than an occasional gym session.

With this research study, patients use a specially designed stationary exercise bike three times a week – each time they dialyse.

Each time they cycle for around half an hour and they can then also carry out some other leg exercises with light weights aimed at increasing muscle endurance. Both the bike ride and the exercises are tailored to each individual patient’s level of fitness and allow them to build up their strength and stamina with more intensive work-outs over time.

They continue the exercise programme for nine months and are closely monitored throughout, with checks on blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart rate. Researchers are also carrying out assessments of their health and quality of life after six, nine and 15 months of starting the study. These will be compared with patients who are on dialysis but not taking part in the exercise programme.

Physiotherapy Assistant Garry Trew

Physiotherapy Assistant Garry Trew has been working with 12 patients at Salford Royal’s dialysis unit and 17 at Bolton’s.

He said: “When people are having dialysis, they’re linked up to the machine for up to five hours at a time. The exercise is something enjoyable to do while they’re being treated rather than just watching TV or listening to music. Patients are reporting that they feel better and can do more than they ever imagined. There have been other spin-offs too – some patients have joined a gym, others have improved their diets and one is swimming three times a week as well as exercising while they’re here.”

Salford Royal is one of six centres nationwide involved in the PEDAL trial, which is aiming to recruit 380 participants. Our local principal investigator is Professor Phil Kalra and Lilian Hlongwane is the trials nurse lead. PEDAL is being led by Professor Iain Macdougall from King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme (NIHR HTA Project Ref 12/23/09 ). The study is expected to finish in March 2018.