Fitness Tips

fitness tips - man running

It’s a basic, well-researched fact — exercise will make you feel better no matter your age, weight or existing health issues. Patients with chronic kidney disease are no exception. It’s about finding the right form and frequency of activity to suit your personal health. Start an exercise plan today and you’ll most likely be feeling better in even a week or two.


Benefits of exercise

Exercise can benefit everyone. It may seem hard at first but once you start exercising regularly, it’ll get easier. Good for your physical and mental well-being, you may be surprised at all the ways exercise can help. People that exercise often say they:

  • Have more enthusiasm and optimism
  • Experience less tension
  • Find it easier to relax
  • Feel stronger and less tired
  • Sleep better
  • Experience reduced muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Have a better appetite and digestion
  • Experience quicker recovery from illness
  • Have an enhanced mental attitude
  • Find it easier to handle stress and anxiety 

>     Attend one of our free patient classes to learn more ways to feel happy and healthy

Tips for getting started

1. Talk to your doctor.
Everyone’s different — you may be ready for more strenuous activity but some of your peers are not. Get your doctor’s approval before you exercise to make sure you pick activities that fit with your current abilities.

2. Set a schedule.
Once you start exercising, try to stick to a weekly regime. Do yoga Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and walk on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example. At least 30 minutes of exercise each day is recommended, but keep in mind this can be spread out across the entire day.

3. Get a workout buddy.
Find a friend, neighbor, colleague or family member to exercise with. You can motivate each other. Pretty soon you’ll stop thinking it’s work and start thinking it’s fun!

4. Choose suitable clothes.
Comfortable, loose clothing is best for working out. Invest in a comfortable pair of sneakers and take the time to work them in.

5. Start slow and stretch.
Take your time with your workouts and don’t rush. Warming up slowly by stretching or walking will make you feel better throughout the activity and decrease the risk of injury.

6. Stay hydrated.
Make sure you are drinking enough to keep you well hydrated while you exercise. Keep in mind your fluid limits if you are on dialysis and ask your doctor or dietitian if you’re unsure how much you can drink. If you exercise heavily you may need to increase your fluid intake a bit.

Sample workouts

The biggest tip to remember when you’re setting out an exercise program is to design your workout around you and no one else. The methods of exercise you pick need to keep your interest and be appropriate for your current abilities.

Restful exercise

If you haven’t exercised much before and spend most of your time sitting, it’s important to start slow. Speak to your doctor about what types of exercise you can do and try to work in some of these methods:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Light lifting with handheld weights

Moderate exercise

If you are used to exercising some already, be sure to keep it up! Staying fit will help you feel better. Try some of these moderately active methods to remain fit and feel good:

  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Swimming
  • Biking

Intense exercise

Always speak to your doctor before starting or continuing a more intense exercise program. If you are very fit already, your doctor will likely encourage you to continue but it’s best to talk it over first. Here are some workout ideas for those of you already in excellent shape:

  • Running
  • Weight lifting
  • Aerobics

It’s important to adapt healthy-eating habits, as eating well will give you more energy to exercise.

>     Learn more about nutrition and chronic kidney disease

Common questions about exercising with CKD

If I exercise, can I eat more fast food and ready meals?

No. You still need to stick to a kidney-friendly diet if you exercise. Speak to your doctor or dietitian if you feel hungrier after exercising and they may adjust your calorie intake. See our kidney-friendly recipes for some tasty meals you can cook up at home!

Should I exercise every day?

Yes. Try to get some form of exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but moving your body each and every day will provide the consistent exercise you need.

How long should my workouts be?

At least 30 minutes of activity each day is recommended, but it can be spaced out over the entire day. Also, if you’re not used to exercising, you may need to build up to 30 minutes a day. Don’t be afraid to start slow.

Can I exercise if I also have diabetes?

Yes. However, some activities may be too strenuous. Avoid high-impact activities and start slow. Do five to 10 minutes of brisk walking a day and work your way up to completing a full 30 minutes.

If I’m on dialysis and exercise, can I drink more liquids?

Your doctor and dietitian may increase your fluid limit if you exercise a lot. This will vary patient to patient so speak to members of your care team before making any changes to your diet or fluid consumption.