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Exercising with Chronic Kidney Disease

By: Kellsey Reed RDN, LDN, PatientsLikeMe Contributor

Yoga, pilates, jogging, biking, the list goes on and on. When it comes to exercise, there are so many options! Exercise is sometimes thought of as taboo when it comes to chronic kidney disease, but it can actually be beneficial for overall kidney health. 

Health benefits of exercise with CKD

Exercise has been shown to help increase muscle strength, improve cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control, weight management, and even sleep. When managing chronic kidney disease, it’s important to keep in mind your heart health and blood sugar control. Exercise can also help with how your body functions on a daily basis. We need to bend down, pick things up, walk in the grocery store, get out of bed, and more each day. Doing regular physical activity helps us to be able to continue doing those things easily. CKD can also affect our bone health in a negative way. When we do weight-bearing physical activity, it helps to increase our bone health too!

How much exercise do you need each day

This really depends on the person and it should be individualized to fit what your body needs. It is always best to check with your doctor and healthcare team to make sure you are doing what is right for you. The current recommendation for physical activity for those with CKD is 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.

What could this look like?

  • 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week
  • 20 minutes of moderate activity 7 days/week 
  • 25 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days/week 
  • 10 minutes of vigorous activity 7 days/week

Remember, exercise and physical activity can look different for everyone. What works for you might not work for other people. So often, we hear people say, “well, I should do this, or I should do that.” Instead of comparing ourselves to other people, we should do physical activity that we enjoy and that fit into our lifestyle. For example, if you love to walk, then maybe you do 20 minutes of walking each day to reach your exercise goals. Another example could be, if you love to dance around your kitchen while you’re preparing dinner, you set your timer for 20 minutes and do some physical activity that you really love!

Tips for adding in more exercise each day

  • Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator 
  • Go on a walk with your family after dinner 
  • Walk around your kitchen while your coffee is brewing before work 
  • Go up and down your steps a few times a day 
  • Go for a 5-minute walk outside in between work meetings 
  • Lift your arms above your head while sitting at your desk 
  • Do squats and lunges when you are watching tv or a movie on netflix 
  • Whenever a commercial or ad comes on the TV, walk around your home 
  • Do sit-ups or crunches before laying down for bed each night
  • Walk up and down the grocery store aisles a few extra times when grocery shopping
  • Take your dog for an extra 5-minute walk each day


  1. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/stayfit
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7066543/
  3. https://bmcnephrol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12882-021-02618-1
  4. https://bmcnephrol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12882-019-1586-5
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