Exercise and sports

Exercise is an important part of maintaining good, overall health. Regular exercise can decrease your blood pressure and stress as well as improve muscle strength, heart function and stamina. It can also enhance a sense of well-being. In general, you will do much better on dialysis and with a transplant if you are physically fit.

What kind of exercise is best?

There is no one best kind of exercise. The key is to find an activity that is comfortable for you and that you enjoy doing. Generally, PKD patients can do any activity they want unless they get blood in the urine or it causes back, flank or abdominal pain. The exercises that are least jarring to the kidneys include walking, swimming and biking.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, as he or she may have guidance about what will be most effective for you, or what to avoid. Remember to always keep well hydrated when exercising, and do your best to be active on a regular basis.


Are sports dangerous to my kidneys?

In general, most sports do not affect kidney function. However, PKD does present unique circumstances and so there are some issues that need to be considered. Given the unique nature of PKD, where kidneys are enlarged and cysts can rupture, there are some simple precautions to take. Contact sports where the kidneys may be traumatized (flank/side or lower back impact) should either be avoided or protective pads should be worn. Examples of these types of sports include football, rugby, basketball, hockey and particularly boxing or kickboxing. Horseback riding and cross-country biking are other sports with repetitive impact that could potentially cause issues with your kidneys. There is no evidence that these activities worsen renal function, but they can result in pain and/or blood appearing in the urine.


Diet and nutrition

There are many reasons to maintain a healthy diet as a PKD patient including the potential to slow cyst growth, diabetes, and faster transplant recovery times. Learn more about diet and nutrition.


Should I limit the physical activity of a child who has ADPKD?

There is no information to support limiting physical activity in any child simply because he or she has ADPKD. It is possible that children with large kidneys and/or large cysts may have more episodes of blood in the urine if they play contact sports such as football, however each child should be evaluated by a doctor on an individual basis.

Page last reviewed November 2022