Objective: To investigate the association between the amount and intensity of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and the risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Methods: The study examined a cohort of 543,667 participants aged 20 years and older who participated in a health screening program from January 1, 1996, through December 31, 2017. We identified 2520 individuals undergoing dialysis or who had a kidney transplant by linking participants’ encrypted personal identification with the registry for ESRD with a median follow-up of 13 years. We classified participants into 5 categories measured by metabolic equivalent of tasks. Within each category, we analyzed the effect of moderate- and vigorous-intensity LTPA in reducing risk of ESRD. We used a Cox proportional hazards model to calculate hazard ratios (HRs). Results: We observed a dose-response relationship between LTPA and the risk of ESRD. The fully active group had a 12% lower hazard of ESRD compared with the no reported LTPA group (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.80 to 0.98) adjusting for covariates including baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate and proteinuria. Within the same category of LTPA, vigorous-intensity exercise carried a 35% lower HR for ESRD compared with moderate-intensity exercise (HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.52 to 0.81). The effect was observed stronger among men, younger participants, and participants with diabetes or hyperlipidemia. Conclusion: Sustained LTPA (≥ 150 minutes per week), particularly with vigorous intensity, significantly lowered the ESRD risk, even among individuals with comorbidities such as diabetes or hyperlipidemia. This finding suggested that patients with no reported LTPA with cardiovascular risks should engage in more LTPA to lower their risk of ESRD.
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