Exercise: What You Should Know

Why is exercise important to me?

Exercise is important for many reasons: It helps you to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Build strength and endurance
  • Prevent injuries
  • Build self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Sleep better

What types of exercise can benefit my health?

Many types of exercise can benefit your health, such as:

  • Walking
  • Doing household chores
  • Gardening
  • Taking part in a sport
  • Aerobic exercises (jogging, swimming, biking, climbing stairs, hiking)

Can anyone exercise?

Yes. However, it's important that the type of activity is right for your:

  • Age
  • Physical condition
  • Level of ability

If you have any chronic illnesses, it's important to check with your doctor before you start.

How often should I exercise?

If you have not exercised for a while, you should start with mild exercises for 10 to 15 minutes a day. You should build up gradually to more strenuous exercises, such as aerobic exercises, and extend the time until you reach 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.

What is aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise is exercise that does the following:

  • Increases your heart rate
  • Makes you breathe deeply
  • Improves your large muscle groups

Some examples of aerobic exercise are:

  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Skiing
  • Cycling
  • Using exercise equipment like a treadmill or exercise bike
  • Swimming

Is it important to stretch before and after exercising?

Yes. Stretching before and after exercising helps to prevent injuries and strengthens your muscles and bones.

I'm so busy. How can I find time to exercise?

Anyone can work some exercise into the daily schedule. You can do many exercises at home, outdoors or even at work. Here are some suggestions:

  • Exercise while watching TV. You can do stretching exercises or use free weights or exercise equipment such as an exercise bike.
  • Exercise around the neighborhood. You can bike to the store, work in the garden, mow the lawn, or take out a ball or Frisbee and offer to play a game with the kids.
  • Exercise at work. Park your car at a distance or get off the bus a stop early and walk 10 minutes to the office. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a brisk walk on your lunch hour, or join the team if your company participates in recreational sports.

How can I make exercise a habit?

  • Choose something you like to do
  • Find a partner, someone to exercise with you
  • Alternate your routine: walk one day, dance the next
  • Make exercise fun: exercise with a group or exercise to music
  • Stay positive: don't worry if you do not see progress right away. It may take weeks before you notice any change
  • Check your progress: see if you can walk a longer distance or exercise for longer periods of time without getting tired

For more information:

Call the National Kidney Foundation's toll-free number 1.855.653.7337.

Date Reviewed: March 2014

If you would like more information, please contact us.

©2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.