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Chronic Kidney Disease

Exercise and Chronic Kidney Disease

​​​​​​​​​​Exercise is important for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) because when your kidney function has decreased, it can affect your muscles and your bones.

You may:
  • feel tired/have no energy​
  • feel weak
  • have pain in your joints
  • be short of breath

With regular exercise, you could help manage many of the health issues seen with kidney disease.

Some of the ​benefits of regular exercise are:
  • more energy
  • increased strength​
  • lower risk of falling
  • able to walk further
  • improved blood sugars and blood pressure
  • improvements in symptoms of restless legs
  • weight loss

What types of exercise should I do?

  1. ​Aerobic exercise is the best type of exercise for your heart because it helps make the heart and lungs stronger. It includes activities like biking, walking and swimming. Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines encourages adults to get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity 5 to 7 times a week but every bit of movement counts!
  2. Resistance trainingis a type of exercise that makes muscles stronger. You repeat movements with weights or resistance tubing. Resistance training is especially important for people with CKD as it helps prevent muscle weakness and joint pain.
  3. Flexibility exercises prevent stiffness and increase mobility. They should be done alongside resistance training. You hold muscles in different positions for 30 seconds.
  4. Balance exercises help reduce the risk of falls. Hold simple standing poses for 5 to 25 seconds to increase leg stability.

How do I get started?

It’s important to talk to your family doctor or kidney doctor before you start an exercise program. That way your doctor can guide you in choosing exercises that will help you, not hurt you. Be patient—it takes time to see results!

There are other benefits that you might not be able to see, so keep with it! You will get the most benefits if you exercise regularly.

Common Questions

I’ve talked to my doctor—what should I know before I start?

Always start each exercise session slowly for at least 5 minutes before increasing your pace. Starting at a slower pace gets the heart and lungs ready for your exercise session. Also, always slow down for a few minutes before you stop your exercise session. This will prevent you from being lightheaded or dizzy after exercising.

How should I progress my exercise?

You should always progress your exercise slowly. Start with 5 to 10 minutes of activity and adding 1 to 2 minutes to your time every exercise session. Do this until you are working out for the time you wish.

Is it normal to feel sore after my exercise sessions?

It is normal to feel some muscle soreness after exercise. Sometimes new exercises use muscles we haven’t used in a long time so they become sore. Remember that you shouldn’t feel pain during your exercise. If you do, stop the exercise and speak with your doctor.​

Current as of: April 18, 2019

Author: Kidney Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services