National Kidney Foundation: E-Kidney

Top 5 Tips to Get Fit

Top 5Exercise keeps the body strong and healthy and has also been shown to decrease blood pressure, reduce weight and improve control of diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are two of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease and both of these conditions can be better controlled through an active, healthy lifestyle. Other benefits of exercise include increased muscle strength, lowered blood fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides), better sleep, and better control of body weight. Additionally, studies have shown that kidney patients who exercise have better outcomes for dialysis and transplantation. Because exercise is so important to protecting your kidneys, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) offers five top tips to help you get fit.

*Before beginning any exercise plan, be sure to check with your doctor or other health care professional to make sure you follow a fitness plan that meets your health needs.

  1. Mix it up. Change your exercise routine regularly to keep it interesting and fun so it won’t seem like a chore. Try to achieve a balance between stretching or flexibility exercises (such as yoga), cardiovascular exercises (working your heart) and muscle-strengthening exercises (like weight lifting). To get your heart pumping, choose activities in which you need to move large muscle groups continuously, such as walking, swimming, biking or aerobic dancing. When mixing up your routine, just be sure to get 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 times a week.
  2. Get outside. You don’t need to go to the gym to get a workout. Depending on where you live, a backyard may do the trick. Take advantage of local parks, bike paths, pools or walking paths. While you take in the fresh air and ever-changing scenery, you’ll be challenging your body to adjust to different natural landscapes, such as hills. Call your park district, or check out the municipal or city government websites to determine where your nearest pool or park is located. If you have trouble with your back or joints, swimming or walking in water will help achieve good cardio performance while preventing wear and tear by keeping weight off the joints. Riding a bike is another good, low-impact way to get exercise without putting a lot of strain on your bones and joints.
  3. Socialize. Find a workout buddy and you’ll be able to catch up with a friend while exercising. This is also a good way to make sure that you’re not short of breath. A good aerobic workout pace should still allow you to talk with someone. Recruit a co-worker to walk together during your lunch hour and you’ll break up your workday and get a workout.
  4. Re-think your weekly errands. Have errands to run or appointments to attend? Walk or park further away from your destination in order to increase the number of steps it will take to get inside. Try to get in the habit of biking or walking, rather than driving, whenever possible. Take the staircase instead of riding the elevator or escalator.
  5. Pick up some weights. Weight training is beneficial because it helps your muscles to grow and adapt, building lean muscle in the process. Two or three times a week, try to perform at least 10 minutes of light weight training. Use 5 or 10 pound dumbbells or do chair exercises with sandbags strapped to your ankles.

Be sure to stay cool and hydrated in the summer heat. It’s very easy to get dehydrated during hot and dry summer days and nothing refreshes your body like water. Be sure to keep a water bottle handy as you go about your day and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, especially if you’re exercising outdoors. Drinking plenty of water will also help protect against kidney stones and bladder infections.

For more information about staying fit with kidney disease, exercise, and the kidneys, visit the National Kidney Foundation at and the A-Z Health Guide.