KEEP Healthy

Staying Fit in 2011

Regular exercise is important for everyone - and that includes people with kidney disease and those at risk for developing kidney disease. Regular exercise will help you feel better, stronger, and give you more energy. With a new year right around the corner, now is a great time to start an exercise plan!

Regular exercise will help increase your muscle strength, your energy levels, and your overall ability to do the things you need to do in your life. Regular exercise has the following benefits:

  • Improved heart function
  • Better blood pressure control
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Better blood sugar control in people with diabetes
  • Improved muscle strength
  • Helps with anxiety and depression
  • May help with weight management

It is important to talk to your doctor about starting exercise, especially if you have had problems with your heart (such as a heart attack, bypass surgery, angioplasty, or chest pain) or if you experience excessive shortness of breath. You should also talk to your doctor if you are interested in more vigorous exercise, or sports like basketball, tennis or other activities. Talk to your doctor about setting up an exercise plan and getting started with an exercise program.

There are several types of exercise:

  • Stretching or flexibility exercises improve the movement of joints, help in reaching above your head, and reduce stiffness in muscles.
  • Strengthening or resistance exercises will increase strength of muscles.
  • Cardiovascular or endurance exercise (also called "aerobic exercise") such as walking or cycling improves the function of the heart and circulation, and results in improved endurance and energy levels.

All of these types of exercise are important for overall physical fitness; however, it may be best for less fit, weaker individuals to start with stretching and strengthening exercises with gradual progression to cardiovascular exercise. The key to beginning a program is to start the exercises slowly and progress gradually. You should exercise at a time during the day when you feel your best. For some people, that is first thing in the morning. For others, it is in the afternoon or evening. It is most important to do your exercise regularly, and it is best to plan a specific time every day for your exercise session. This will help it become part of your regular routine.

Remember, when starting a fitness plan it is important to set realistic goals. You may find it helpful to write down your own personal fitness plan and keep a journal or record. Ask friends and family for encouragement to help keep you motivated. In general, reviewing your exercise goals with your physician is worthwhile, especially if you have chronic kidney disease or cardiovascular disease.

These are general tips for getting started with exercise. For specific help go to

For tips on how to stay fit if you have CKD see the National Kidney Foundation's Publication Staying Fit with Kidney Disease available here.

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