How is exercise being prescribed for patients on hemodialysis? A scoping review



Exercise is important for patients on hemodialysis, but details and descriptions on how it is prescribed are lacking. We reviewed the existing literature and described how exercise is being prescribed for patients on hemodialysis.


A scoping review according to the JBI and PRISMA-ScR guidelines was conducted. MEDLINE, EMBASE and other databases were searched from inception until December 2021. Websites, books, and guidelines were also searched. We included evidence from patients on hemodialysis, describing exercise protocols, in all settings and designs.


Two hundred and eighty-five studies were included, yielding 327 exercise protocols. Aerobic (38.8%) and strength (21.4%) were the most prescribed exercise types. Exercise was mainly prescribed during dialysis (71.0%) and delivered within the first half of the session (94.6%). Although 33.3% of the exercise protocols did not report whether there was supervision or not, those that did were mostly delivered by physiotherapists (20.5%) and exercise physiologists (17.4%). The most followed exercise training principles were type (99.0%) and frequency (93.2%), whereas progression was adopted in 40.7% protocols. The most prescribed frequency and duration were three times/week (79.9%) and 30–60-min (69.2%) sessions, respectively. Exercise intensity was predominantly prescribed in moderate cut-offs (72.3%), mostly assessed by subjective methods (47.5%).


Aerobic and strength were the most prescribed exercise types, mainly during dialysis. Interventions were mostly supervised by physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. Future exercise protocols for patients on hemodialysis should adopt recommended exercise principles, especially with systematic progression.