Worried about kidney stones? Ditch anxiety by taking action. Recent research has found that exercise may reduce your risk.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones impact millions of people each year. If you have ever had a kidney stone or been in the presence of someone that has had one, you know how very painful they can be. In fact, kidney stones force nearly half a million people annually to visit the emergency room. Kidney stones are actually small bits of crystallized minerals that are found in the urinary tract. The most common types of kidney stones are struvite, calcium and uric acid. Some stones will pass with medication that helps them dissolve, along with plenty of water to move them through the system. Other stones require medical attention such as surgery or laser removal.
What causes kidney stones?
There is not one culprit that can be blamed for kidney stones, but there are several risk factors. These include:
Age – although they can occur at anytime during the lifespan, kidney stones are more likely to impact older adults.
Gender – men are afflicted with kidney stones more often than women.
Weight – people who are carrying a lot of extra weight are more vulnerable to kidney stones.
Diet – too much protein and sodium has been identified as a risk factor for stones. High calorie foods have also been linked to kidney stones.
Heredity – if someone in your immediate family has had kidney stones, the chances that you will also have them will be greater.
Low fluid intake – kidney stones often form when urine is concentrated as is likely to happen when the body does not take in enough fluids.
Lower your risk of kidney stones
You already know that exercise is good for just about everything that ails you and kidney stones are no exception. A study involving more than 85,000 older women found a link between regular physical activity and reduced risk for kidney stones. The results were impressive. Researchers noted a risk reduction of more than 30% with regular, moderate exercise. Although the study involved only women, men should not assume exercise cannot reduce their risk of kidney stones as well.
Your exercise plan can be as simple as a 30 minute walk three or four times a week. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity.
Dietary changes often follow increased physical activity. There is something about exercising that makes most people want to eat better, more nutritional food. The bonus is better nutrition can reduce the risk of kidney stones as well. Researchers found that study participants who cut back on high calorie foods also cut back on their risk of kidney stones.
If cutting back on the high calorie foods you enjoy feels too hard, try adding to your diet instead of telling yourself you are going to take anything away. Incorporate fruits and vegetables in all your meals and snacks. Drink plenty of water, too. You may just find that you have less room to eat as many high calorie foods.
More than 3 million people experience the pain of kidney stones every year. Exercise may reduce that number. That’s one more good reason to get moving – you’ll be glad you did.