Can Working Out Too Much Affect Your Kidneys?

Man and beautiful woman using a stepper in a gym
Exercise, in moderation, will help your kidneys. (Image: nd3000/iStock/Getty Images)

Too much exercise can negatively affect your body. Generally, exercise is good for your kidneys and helps maintain a healthy weight and heart. If you are working out upwards of three hours per day, according to dietician Sanjana Shenoy, than you are working out too much and may begin to see repercussions. Too much working out can cause low sodium levels and malnutrition, which negatively affects your kidneys.

Exercise and Your Kidneys

Aerobics, as being the best form of exercise to help your kidneys, can include walking, cycling, swimming, jogging and any other form of heart-pumping cardio. Aerobics can help prevent type 2 diabetes, the number-one cause of kidney failure -- followed closely by high blood pressure and cholesterol -- lowers your resting heart rate and improves your immune system. In a May 2008 study from the "Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine," exercise was also shown to help prevent kidney damage that occurs with ageing. Doctors tested participants' kidney function and their levels of creatinine, a waste product. Regular exercisers had lower levels of creatinine and had kidneys that were better able to clear creatinine from their bloodstream. Exercising aerobically for 30 to 60 minutes a day is the recommended amount for a healthy adult.

Effects of Too Much Exercise

Exercising over three hours per day -- unless it's an event like kayaking, hiking, even running a marathon -- can be detrimental to your health, especially if you are not supplementing the calories you've burned with additional calorie consumption. When your body doesn't have enough nutrients, it cannot perform basic functions properly, including the function of your kidneys. Your kidneys help cleanse toxins from your body, regulate acid concentration and maintain water balance. Malnutrition and vitamin or nutrient-deficiency will increase your risk for kidney infection, and thus increase your risk for kidney damage or failure.

Exercise and Water Intake

Exercising too much can lead to too much water intake. During exercise, your kidneys are working to excrete excess fluids. If the kidneys can't keep up with the fluid intake, extra water will move into your cells, including your brain cells, which can be fatal.

Recommendations

Your workouts should be enjoyable, rather than feeling like a chore. If you have a kidney disorder or kidney disease, talk to your doctor before you make any exercise changes. If you are cleared for exercise, consider working out with other people to avoid feelings of isolation that can often come from being diagnosed with kidney disease.

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