Skeletal muscle loss is the most important hallmark of protein energy wasting syndrome as it contributes to declines in physical independence, poor quality of life, and higher mortality risk in individuals with ESRD on maintenance hemodialysis (HD). As such, exercise and nutritional interventions have been investigated with the goal to preserve skeletal muscle mass and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, current efforts are unable to confirm the capacity of exercise to mitigate ESRD-associated muscle wasting. However, the inconclusive data are often accompanied by suboptimal exercise prescriptions. Exercise sessions are often implemented in-clinic during the catabolic and proinflammatory period of dialysis treatment and without concurrent nutritional support. Additionally, indirect considerations like exercise intolerance and exercise program compliance/adherence also inhibit exercise training potential. These shortcomings all stem from the current lack of understanding in skeletal muscle mass regulation within the context of ESRD and intermittent HD. As such, this review summarizes the current understanding of exercise regulation on skeletal muscle mass and ESRD-related obstacles of anabolism to contextualize the ineffectiveness of current exercise interventions for HD patients.
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