FRIDAY, May 3, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Anybody who's ever had kidney stones knows how painful they can be.
Now, a new study suggests that getting more exercise may reduce older women's risk for kidney stones.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, Georgetown University and University of Washington School of Medicine analyzed data from more than 85,000 postmenopausal women in the United States and found that higher levels of physical activity seemed to lower the risk of kidney stones by as much as 31 percent.
The amount of exercise -- not the intensity -- is the key factor in reducing kidney stone risk, according to the study scheduled for Saturday presentation at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, in San Diego.
The researchers also said that reducing the amount of high-calorie foods they consume could cut postmenopausal women's risk of kidney stones by more than 40 percent.
"Kidney stones are a very common health condition, and as with most health conditions, prevention is key," AUA spokesman Dr. Kevin McVary said in an association news release.
"While we know diet is one of several factors that can promote or inhibit kidney stone development, this study shows lifestyle changes such as exercise can also help prevent stones from forming in postmenopausal women. Further research is needed to understand if this observation is accurate for other demographics," he noted.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Each year, kidney stones send more than 3 million Americans to a health care provider and more than half a million to an emergency department, according to the news release. Obesity is known to be a strong risk factor for kidney stones.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidney stones.