How Exercise can help manage Chronic Kidney Disease

28 Oct, 2019

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

The kidneys are such an important part of bodily function, as they eliminate bodily fluid, salts, and by-products of protein metabolism. They also help by controlling blood pressure, making red blood cells, and maintaining healthy bones. Approximately 237,800 Australians are living with chronic kidney disease, 1 in 10 Australians having some form of indicator of reduced kidney function.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when you lose 1/3 of kidney function over 3 months. There are 5-stages of CKD, with the progressions determined by the amount of waste the kidneys can filter from the blood in a minute, which is also known as the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). As the GFR lowers, the closer it gets to stage-5 and kidney failure. When kidney failure occurs, the kidneys can no longer filter and remove excess water from the body, and an individual may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Who is most at risk?

People are at an increased risk of
developing chronic kidney disease if they:

  • Are 60 years or older
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a family history of kidney disease
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are obese – BMI ≥ 30
  • Are a smoker


Common Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Kidney disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in the appearance of urine
  • Change in frequency of urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in kidney area
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Metallic taste in Mouth
Chronic Kidney Disease

During early stage kidney failure there is often no symptoms, despite there being a small amount of kidney damage. As the stages increase, symptoms begin to be more apparent and blood pressure continues to increase.


How can exercise help?

Exercise plays a vital role in the prevention and management of CKD. The leading cause of death in individuals with CKD is cardiovascular disease and associated heart complications. This is due to a combination of the symptoms of CKD leading to significantly high blood pressure, and hypertension. Because of this, one of the main focusses in the management of CKD is blood pressure reduction, which can be completed through regular progressive cardiovascular exercise. Similar principles apply to the management of blood glucose and the resulting type II diabetes caused by CKD. The focus is to reduce and manage an individual’s blood glucose, in which utilising a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise can be beneficial.

Depression and fatigue are very prominent in those with CKD, and can often result in reduced quality of life. Regular exercise and physical activity can assist in the management of these conditions by not only improving mental health, but also improving energy levels and quality of sleep. This is supported by several studies that suggest that for individuals with CKD, participating in at least two months of regular physical activity demonstrated increases in quality of life across all areas.

Summary of exercise recommendations:

  • 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on five days per week
  • Resistance training to assist in management & improving muscular strength 2-3 times per week
  • Participating in flexibility training twice per week

To ensure physical activity is conducted safely and with the appropriate exercises, it is recommended that you consult an exercise physiologist, so that they may develop an individually tailored  exercise program for your needs and to help you achieve your goals.

What to do now?

If you or someone you know are suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease give us a call at Gen Physio, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients. All of our clinicians are mobile and come to your own home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation today


American College of Sport and Medicine. (2016). ACSM’s Guidelines of Exercise Testing and

Prescription. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Heiwe, S., & Jacobson, S. H. (2011). Exercise training for adults with chronic kidney disease. The

Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 10.

Smart, N. A., Williams, A. D., Levinger, I., Selig, S., Howden, E., Coombes, J. S., & Fassett, R. G. (2013).

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) position statement on exercise and chronic kidney

disease. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 406-411.

Straub, C. K., Murphy, S. O., & Rosenblum, R. (2008). Exercise in the Management of Fatigue In

Patients on Peritoneal Dialysis. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 469-475.

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