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Physical fitness is an independent predictor of chronic kidney disease development in apparently healthy individuals.

BACKGROUND: The cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of physical activity have been studied at length, however, data on the association between physical fitness and progression to kidney disease is lacking. We aimed to identify the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and development of chronic kidney disease (CKD) among the healthy population.

METHODS: We retrospectively investigated 11,579 healthy self-referred subjects who underwent annual medical screening. All subjects had an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) above 60 ml/min/1.73 m2 , no known kidney disease, hematuria or proteinuria, and were free of diabetes or cardiovascular disease at baseline. All participants completed a maximal exercise test, and were categorized into low and high cardiorespiratory fitness groups based on age- and gender-specific quintiles. The primary end point was the development of significant CKD defined as eGFR below 45 ml/min/1.73 m2 during follow-up.

RESULTS: Median follow-up was 7.6 years, and the participants' median age was 50 ± 8 years. Baseline creatinine and eGFR were 1.02 mg/dl and 81 ml/min/1.73 m2 , respectively. During follow-up, 81 (0.6%) participants developed CKD, and the cumulative probability was significantly higher among the low fitness group (HR = 2.41, p = 0.001). The effect of physical fitness on the risk to develop CKD remained significant after adjusting for age, gender, baseline creatinine and other cardiovascular risk factors.

CONCLUSION: Cardiorespiratory fitness is an independent risk factor inversely associated with development of CKD.

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