Physical Activity and Kidney Health

Explore the benefits of physical activity for kidney disease management, understand its role in improving health outcomes, and find practical tips for daily exercise.
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
May 15, 2024

How does physical activity benefit people with CKD?

Physical activity offers many benefits to help you manage your kidney disease. It can improve your physical well-being and your overall health. Regular exercise can also help you manage the progression of your kidney disease and other health complications.  

Being more active can benefit you in several ways: 

  • Improves heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. 
  • Helps manage blood sugar levels and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  • Enhances mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. 
  • Prevents weight gain and supports weight maintenance. 
  • Maintains muscle mass and bone density. 
  • Supports better sleep. 

Regular physical activity is key to potentially slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD). By improving cardiovascular health, controlling blood pressure, and managing blood sugar levels, exercise reduces primary risk factors for CKD progression. 

What kind of physical activity can I do?

For individuals living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), engaging in regular physical activity is highly beneficial, but the type and intensity of exercises recommended can vary based on the stage of your disease, physical condition, and overall health. 

It is recommended that people with CKD undertake moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week, or to a level compatible with their cardiovascular and physical tolerance. Moderate-intensity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate, breathe harder, and break a sweat. Activities include brisk walking, biking, or swimming. You can break up the 150 minutes over the course of the week. For example if you do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises 5 times a week, that will get you to 150.  

Before starting any new exercise regimen, talk with  your healthcare team to ensure the activities chosen are appropriate for your specific condition and health status. Tailor the type and intensity of physical activity to ensure safety and maximize kidney health benefits. 

How can I incorporate physical activity into my life with CKD?

Incorporating physical activity into your life with chronic kidney disease (CKD) requires thoughtful planning and adaptation to ensure that exercise is both beneficial and safe. 

Here are five strategies to incorporate physical activity into your life with CKD: 

  1. Understand Your Limits: Recognize your physical condition and consult your healthcare provider for safe exercise recommendations. 
  2. Set Realistic Goals: Start with achievable exercise goals and gradually increase activity levels. 
  3. Incorporate Variety: Mix different types of exercises to keep your routine engaging. 
  4. Schedule Regular Activity: Plan physical activity into your daily routine, even with short sessions. 
  5. Monitor Your Response: Pay attention to your body's signals and adjust activities accordingly.