It is now known that exercise has positive benefits for people with chronic kidney disease.

Exercising does not mean you have to be able to run a marathon! Being physically active every day has many positive effects on your health and wellbeing.

Whatever your stage of kidney disease there are lots of reasons to exercise regularly, including:

  • increasing your energy levels
  • keeping your muscles strong
  • helping to maintain body weight
  • helping to control blood pressure and blood sugar
  • lifting your mood and helping to fight depression through the release of endorphins
  • reducing stress
  • reducing your risk of heart problems by lowering your ‘bad’ cholesterol, increasing ‘good’ cholesterol and reducing triglyceride level
  • improving your sleep
  • helping ease restless legs and muscle cramps.

As kidney disease progresses, maintaining or improving your fitness may be difficult but it is still very important. Do as much as is comfortable and think of it as part of your treatment.

Some contact sports may need to be avoided, particularly after a transplant. If you have a catheter, you need to protect your catheter while exercising.

How much exercise do you need?

If you want to improve your heart health and blood pressure, 30 minutes of activity most days at low to moderate intensity can be enough for some of your exercise sessions.

There are many simple everyday opportunities for low to moderate physical activity, such as cleaning, gardening, playing with children or grandchildren, walking the dog, using stairs instead of the lift, and walking to the shops rather than driving or taking the bus.

If you want to lose weight, you may need to do some longer sessions (45 to 60 minutes) of higher intensity exercises (fast walking, swimming, slow jogging, weights).

It’s important to watch out for these signs to stop exercising:

  • chest pain or pressure
  • dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • irregular or very fast heart rate
  • excessive shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • severe leg cramps
  • pain or pressure in the neck or jaw
  • excessive tiredness
  • blurring vision.

 If you experience any of these, stop, cool down and tell your doctor or a member of your healthcare team.

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found in our Resource Library.

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