You know that exercise is essential for diabetic health. But besides lowering blood sugar, getting fit may also improve kidney function among adults with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes and kidney disease

According to a study conducted by the V.A. Medical Center, Washington, D.C., and George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, physical fitness had a significant impact on renal (kidney) capacity and chronic kidney disease for those with type 2 diabetes.

While type 2 diabetes often develops from insufficient insulin production in the pancreas, the disease can also damage the kidneys, organs that consist of millions of tiny blood vessels which act as filters.

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The kidneys' job is to remove waste products from the blood. However, high levels of blood sugar force the kidneys to filter too much blood, which can sometimes cause the filtering system to break down. The kidneys then lose their ability to sift out waste, resulting in kidney disease.

So, what should people with type 2 diabetes do to help prevent kidney disease? Exercise, for one thing!

Exercise and kidney health

According to a recent study, going for a run, taking a bike ride, or swimming laps in the pool may help boost kidney health. Participants who completed a 12-week aerobic/resistance exercise program had a lower rate of progression to chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Additionally, the more intense the exercise, the more helpful it proved. Individuals who participated in low-fit physical activity lowered their progression rate by about 41 percent, while those who did moderate-fit exercise dropped their rates by 51 percent and those who did high-fit exercise dropped their rates by 68 percent.

Regular exercise may help kidney function by lowering blood pressure and improving blood filtration through the kidneys. In this way, getting active can serve as a great high blood pressure treatment too. What's more, physical fitness improves muscle function, reduces cholesterol, and helps people maintain a healthy body weight. Researchers have shown that aquatic exercise, as well as resistance exercise, can be particularly beneficial.

4 tips to remember before you get started

  1. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
  2. Listen to your body during exercise and remember to closely monitor your blood glucose before, during, and after workouts.
  3. Be sure to warm up before increasing exercise intensity. Five minutes of walking, cycling or light aerobics prepares your body for more strenuous activity.
  4. If you are sweating a lot during the workout, don't forget to replace lost fluid.

To learn more about kidney health:

Kidney-Friendly Foods
8 Foods That Protect Your Kidneys
Kidney-Friendly Diabetic Recipes