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Physiotherapy in Chronic Kidney Disease

Lifestyle Advice

Gillian von Fragstein MCSP ACE MSc

Senior Physiotherapist Royal Derby Hospital Renal services

Physiotherapy aims to provide information and details of appropriate activities that will be beneficial to people who have been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease.

Continuing to be as active as possible can be a challenge!

As we get older, finding the time, energy and motivation becomes more difficult especially for people with a long term condition, such as chronic kidney disease.

However everyone can benefit from some kind of regular exercise and we can work together to find what is the best way for you.

The human body is designed to be active. However, frequently, in today’s lifestyles, we all generally make much less demands on our bodies than in the past.

There are many benefits to be gained when increasing the amount of exercise we do.

It has been shown scientifically that being more active can be beneficial in the management of

  • weight control, 
  • diabetes, 
  • blood pressure 
  • back pain 
  • general well being and sleep patterns 


People with kidney disease can benefit from exercise and information to provide help and support that will be helpful during the early days of dialysis (Renal Replacement Therapy) and later on in the treatment and management of their condition.

It is recommended that adults should exercise for 20-30 minutes per day at moderate intensity.

Everyone has different levels of fitness and with practise can change and improve.

What does exercise do???

1. Prevent stiffness and maintain flexibility.

A good exercise program will ensure that all or most joints will move through the full available range of movement, thus preventing joint stiffness and promote flexibility of joints and soft tissues.

Weight bearing exercise ( low impact) also increases bone strength.

2. Increase muscle strength.

Muscles should be working hard enough to maintain or increase the strength, Good movement also prevents muscle shortening and improves circulation, all of which helps the muscle to relax.

3. Strengthen and Improve the Heart and circulation.

The heart is also a muscle!

An exercise program will cause some breathlessness, which indicates that the cardiac and circulatory system is working well, and builds strength and stamina.

Working at “ moderate Intensity” means the your heart and breathing rates should increase…you may even sweat…, but you should still be able to hold a conversation.

4. Improved Mobility.

It is of great importance to you that you maintain your independence and mobility, ie. getting around to live your life and continue with your interests and hobbies.

5. Improved sleep patterns, mood and feelings of well being.

The effect of all of the above helps to promote the last particularly with the stimulation of certain helpful hormones and helping the body to relax more effectively.

We can help!

Ask to speak to the Physiotherapist on the Renal Dialysis Unit who will make an appointment with you to discuss you particular mobility and activity level.

On your first visit you will have some simple measurements taken, which will provide information on your current level of strength and mobility, plus help us build and create the best program for you.

You can also think about what you can do, or would like to do at home; where in you current routine you can do more activity.

Suggestions include:

  • Increase your walking…use of a pedometer 
  • Practise an exercise program at home 
  • Consider joining a gym 


Keep an exercise diary and see if you can increase the amount you do in small ways e.g. keeping a record of how many times you climb the stairs per day. 

All this will be discussed with you during the workshop and particular goals and targets set to ensure you achieve the most from your exercise. 

It s never too late to start and be surprised at the difference you feel!