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Chronic Kidney Disease

Exercise and chronic kidney disease

​Regular e​​​​​​​​​​​xercise is important for people with chronic kidney disease. It can help improve many of the health issues that come with chronic kidney disease, such as: 

  • feeling tired and have no energy
  • weakness
  • joint pain
  • shortness of breath

Benefits of exercise 

Getting regular exercise helps you to:

  • have more energy
  • be stronger​
  • lower your risk of falling
  • walk further
  • improved your blood glucose (sugar) and blood pressure
  • relieve symptoms of restless legs
  • lose weight

Most benefits are things you can feel rather than things you can see. It will take time to see results, so be patient. You will get the most benefits if you exercise regularly.

Types of exercise 

There are different types of exercise. They all have health benefits:

  • ​Aerobic exercise makes your heart and lungs stronger. It includes activities like biking, walking, and swimming.
  • Resistance training makes your muscle stronger and helps prevent joint pain. You repeat movements with weights or resistance tubing.
  • Flexibility exercises​ prevent stiffness and help you move more easily.
  • Balance exercises help lower your risk of falls. 

Getting started

It’s important to talk to your family doctor or kidney doctor before you start an exercise program. Your doctor can help you choose exercises that will help you, not hurt you. 

Always warm up before each exercise session by going slowly for at least 5 minutes. Then increase your pace. Starting at a slower pace gets your heart and lungs ready for your exercise session. 

Always cool down at the end of each exercise session by slowing for a few minutes before you stop. This will prevent you from being lightheaded or dizzy after exercising.

Progressing

Progress your exercise slowly. Start with 5 to 10 minutes of activity and add 1 to 2 minutes to your time every exercise session. Do this until you reach your goal workout time.

Soreness and pain

Sometimes new exercises use muscles we haven’t used in a long time. It is normal to feel some muscle soreness after exercise. 

Remember that you shouldn’t feel pain during your exercise. If you do, stop the exercise and speak with your doctor.​​

Current as of: December 1, 2023

Author: Medicine Strategic Clinical Network - Kidney Health, Alberta Health Services