By: Dr. Gary Bellman on December 19, 2013
Small increments of exercise could help lower the risk of developing painful kidney stones in postmenopausal women
, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, also showed that watching calorie intake could decrease risk of kidney stones, as people who consumed more than 2,200 calories a day had a 42% higher risk of developing the stones.
Kidney stones are actually comprised of minerals and acid salts; they form in the kidneys when urine becomes more concentrated with substances that would cause crystals to form, or when the urine doesn't have enough substances to prevent the formation of crystals; there's usually not one single cause of kidney stones.
For the new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine, more than 84,000 postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative were tracked for their physical activity and dietary intake. Researchers found an association between physical activity and a 31% lower kidney stone risk.
The finding held true after controlling for certain other potential risk factors, like body mass index.
Further more, researchers said women in the study didn't need to be extreme exercisers to reap the benefits. 3-4 hours of walking at a 2-3 mile-per-hour pace, one hour of jogging at a 6 mile- per-hour pace, or 4 hours of light gardening a week seemed to meet the levels of physical activity needed for protective benefits.
Additional varying risk factors for developing kidney stones may include:
- Family or personal history. If someone in your family has kidney stones, you're more likely to develop stones, too. And if you've already had one or more kidney stones, you're at increased risk of developing another.
- Being an adult. Kidney stones are most common in adults age 40 and older, though kidney stones may occur at any age.
- Being a man. Men are more likely to develop kidney stones, although an increasing number of women are developing kidney stones.
- Dehydration- Not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of kidney stones. People who live in warm climates and those who sweat a lot may be at higher risk than others.
- Certain diets- Eating a diet that's high in protein, sodium and sugar may increase your risk of some types of kidney stones. This is especially true with a high-sodium diet.
- Being obese- High body mass index (BMI), large waist size and weight gain have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.
- Digestive diseases and surgery- Gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea can cause changes in the digestive process that affect your absorption of calcium and water, increasing the levels of stone-forming substances in your urine.
- Other medical conditions- Diseases and conditions that may increase your risk of kidney stones include renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, certain medications and some urinary tract infections.