Exercise in individuals with CKD

Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Jan;59(1):126-34. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.10.008. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


There are few studies evaluating exercise in the nondialysis chronic kidney disease (CKD) population. This review covers the rationale for exercise in patients with CKD not requiring dialysis and the effects of exercise training on physical functioning, progression of kidney disease, and cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, we address the issue of the risk of exercise and make recommendations for implementation of exercise in this population. Evidence from uncontrolled studies and small randomized controlled trials shows that exercise training results in improved physical performance and functioning in patients with CKD. In addition, although there are no studies examining cardiovascular outcomes, several studies suggest that cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, inflammation, and oxidative stress may be improved with exercise training in this population. Although the current literature does not allow for definitive conclusions about whether exercise training slows the progression of kidney disease, no study has reported worsening of kidney function as a result of exercise training. In the absence of guidelines specific to the CKD population, recent guidelines developed for older individuals and patients with chronic disease should be applied to the CKD population. In sum, exercise appears to be safe in this patient population if begun at moderate intensity and increased gradually. The evidence suggests that the risk of remaining inactive is higher. Patients should be advised to increase their physical activity when possible and be referred to physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation programs when appropriate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / physiopathology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / therapy
  • Risk Factors