Ian Exton

Ian Exton pedals on his static bike as part of the PEDAL research study

A keen fan of cycling from the East Midlands is using his participation in research to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

Ian Exton, 48 from Oakham, has been taking part in the PEDAL study since August 2018. The study - Intra-Dialytic exercise to improve quAlity of Life in patients with chronic kidney disease, to use its full name - is exploring whether undertaking exercise during haemodialysis is a cost-effective way to improve the quality of life of people with stage 5 chronic kidney disease.

The study sees half of the participants, including Ian, completing exercises such as stationary cycling and lifting weights with their legs whilst undergoing haemodialysis. The other half of participants complete their normal haemodialysis sessions.

Ian is one of 380 patients who will take part across the UK over a four-year period; his participation will be six months. Before and after taking part in the study, participants are given a series of tests to determine their fitness and quality of life.

Ian undergoes his sessions at Kettering Renal Unit based at Kettering Hospital, Northamptonshire, supported by the Clinical Research Network East Midlands. He spends up to three hours a week cycling on a static bike although his overall haemodialysis sessions last as long as four hours each time.

During his first session on the bike, Ian decided that he wanted to do more than just take part in research, and committed to cycling the length of the Tour of Britain whilst on the static bike, following in the footsteps of British superstars such as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.

He said: “It’s the first time I’ve taken part in a research study, but as soon as I found out that I’d be on a bike I realised I could help with research and raise money for a good cause at the same time.”

Since the first session, Ian has noticed an improvement in his fitness and over time has been able to regularly increase the duration of his cycling and the resistance. With just a handful of weeks left in the study, he has less than a quarter of the distance to go and is on pace to hit his target of raising £500 for Kidney Care UK, the charity that has supported him.

He added: “It’s been a really positive experience for me. Since I started taking part I’ve seen my fitness improve, and being able to try and improve week-on-week definitely keeps me motivated.

“The support I’ve received from everyone has been fantastic - from my friends and family to all the staff, Kidney Care UK, and my employer Linecross. Knowing that so many people are willing me to make the finish line has been a real boost during the times when it’s been tough.”

Ian’s dedication has been welcome news for Kidney Care UK, whose Head of Fundraising, Rob Hope said: “We’re touched that Ian has used this opportunity to also raise money for Kidney Care UK and it’s wonderful to see that he has also seen an improvement in his health and motivation. What an incredible way to get involved in research that could help fellow kidney patients in the future whilst also raising money to help fellow kidney patients here and now.”

As his involvement in the study nears the end, Ian has bought a bike to help him continue to exercise at the conclusion. He doesn’t want this to be the end of his involvement in research, adding: “I understand why some people might be wary of research, but it really doesn’t have to be scary. Once I’ve finished this study I’ll be seeing what else I can do to help patients like me in the future.”

The study Chief Investigator is Professor Iain MacDougall, Consultant Nephrologist at King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust. Locally, the Principle Investigator is Dr James Burton, NIHR Clinician Scientist and Associate Professor in Renal Medicine within the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester.

Thank you to Ian for sharing his story, and we look forward to seeing him soar past his targets - distance and fundraising - in the weeks ahead.