Nephrolithiasis is the accumulation of stones in the kidneys and this condition can be relieved with the help of fitness exercises.

It’s common knowledge that exercises are necessary for your body to stay fit and trim. Fitness exercises can promote better blood circulation, enhance excretion of toxic waste products, help strengthen the immune system, and improve respiration. In the case of nephrolithiasis, light fitness exercises have been discovered to prevent the formation of kidney stones and increase the elimination of existing kidney stones. Exercises can also help the body excrete toxic waste products of metabolism.

What is Nephrolithiasis?

Nephrolithiasis is the accumulation of stones in the kidneys; the most common are uric acid crystals. In untreated cases, the stones can continue to grow in size because of the adsorption of additional crystals.

These stones can block the urinary tubules or the ureters and can cause painful urination. In extreme cases, surgical removal of the stones is necessary.

human kidney anatomy diagram

Symptoms of Nephrolithiasis

  • Pink or bloody urine – due to the injury of the renal tubules/ducts/ureter
  • Dysuria or painful urination
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Hypogastric pain
  • Nausea
  • Back pain

“Watch a short video with UCLA urologist Caroline Wallner, MD discusses what causes urinary stones, symptoms, what stones are made of, size, and composition, and how to prevent future stones. Enjoy her:”

What are the fitness exercises that can help individuals with nephrolithiasis?

If you have nephrolithiasis and you want to exercise, you can choose exercises that are not strenuous, and those that do not involve heavy weightlifting. In addition, it’s advisable to wear the best back brace to prevent injury.

Examples of these exercises are:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Other cardio exercises

Here are specific steps on how to perform these exercises.

1. Walking

Brisk walking is preferred rather than a leisurely walk. Nevertheless, if you’re still starting, you can take it easy. The body is like a car that you have to ‘brake in’ before you can drive it smoothly.

Change into comfortable walking gear and take with you a bottle of water. You need to hydrate yourself properly to make up for the water loss that occurs when you’re sweating. Increase gradually your walking hours as your body adjusts to your new activity.

Don’t overdo it. When you feel pain or discomfort, stop and rest. A 3-hour walk per week is advisable. You can increase the frequency and lessen the hours. Example: a 1-hour walk every day.

2. Jogging

The precautions for walking are the same as jogging, but jogging requires more energy; thus, you have to hydrate yourself more often than when walking. Ensure that your shoes are comfortable. Aside from the flexible back brace, you can use knee pads or braces to support your knees.

The best time to jog is during early mornings. You can jog during the evenings too if you don’t have time in the morning.

Jogging outdoors is recommended because you can have a breath of fresh air while exercising. In some cases, when you cannot go outdoors because of the weather or because of valid reasons, you can use a treadmill – indoors.

There are various reliable treadmills you can choose from. Choose one that suits your needs and your pocket. With treadmills, you can conveniently select the tempo that you’re most comfortable with, and the distance of your jog.

There are also features that can help you monitor your progress. There are treadmills that provide good features, such as: measurement of vital signs and other body parameters.

3. Biking

Biking is best done outdoors to get a sniff of fresh air and a scenic view of your surroundings. Nonetheless, if you’re more convenient using a stationary bike, then by all means, do so.

If you’re not training to become an athlete, then a stationary bike would be more practical. You can choose from a wide variety of stationary bikes, such as: recumbent bikes, or upright bikes, or spin cycle bikes.

Find a bike that can respond to your individual requirements, as a biker with nephrolithiasis. The bike’s seat must be adjustable, and you should feel comfortable riding it. There are bikes that can monitor your vital signs, and allow you to listen to your favorite music while exercising. Choose one that can provide you the data that you need.

In your case, as a person with kidney disease, you can find a stationary bike that can provide readings of your pulse rate, blood pressure, and the approximate amount of calories that you have shed off. Of course, you must be aware too of the time you have spent in biking.

When not in use, you can easily fold most of these stationary bikes and put them aside to provide more space inside your house. Furthermore, there are those that you transfer easily because they are lightweight.

4. Swimming

This is a refreshing way to exercise. Try to use your hands and body too, so you can exercise the entire body. You can perform the various swimming strokes to rejuvenate your muscles.

You can do the backstroke, butterfly stroke, combat swimmer stroke, sidestroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and the trudgen. These strokes are self-explanatory, just by their names, except for the trudgen stroke, which is also known as the racing stroke.

In this method, the swimmer uses his scissor kick stroke and overarm strokes alternately. Make sure you wear the proper swimming gear, such as a swimming cap and goggles. A light and a fitting swimsuit are required.

5. Dancing

To most people, dancing is not exercise. However, studies have proven that dancing is actually a type of exercise. The difference is that you use audio to perform the steps. It’s more enjoyable too because you can meet new friends and learn new dance moves.

Of course, you have to wear appropriate clothing, as well. If you’re new to dancing, wear comfortable shoes and not high heels. Start with ballroom dancing, and then you can later proceed to jazz and modern dancing.

6. Other aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, cycling, and similar activities. You can also include Tai Chi, Stairmaster, hiking, and calisthenics. Tai Chi is similar to martial arts but involves slower movements and focuses on the mind-body connection. You can perform these exercises together with your friends and family.

These exercises are recommended for persons with nephrolithiasis. If you have kidney stones, here are advantages that you can derive from these fitness exercises.

Advantages of exercises to persons with nephrolithiasis

  • As previously mentioned, exercises can help eliminate the stones from the kidneys. This is because as you exercise, the gravitational pull of the ground will tend to tug the stone down the urinary tubules and be excreted as urine through the urethra.
  • The constant movement of the body can break the stones into smaller ones that would facilitate their excretion by the kidneys.
  • The increased circulation, due to exercise, would prevent the accumulation of crystals in any part of the body. Because of the quicker elimination of the waste products of the body, which includes uric acid crystals, the formation of stones is prevented. Uric acid is the most common crystal that accumulates to form kidney stones.

Tips for performing fitness exercises for persons with nephrolithiasis

1. If unsure whether to exercise or not, consult your doctor.

You can inform him of the fitness exercises that you plan to perform. When you experience extreme pain during your exercises, you must consult your physician too. It’s better to be certain that nothing is wrong with you than to assume that the pain is nothing.

2. Hydrate yourself properly.

The body is composed of 60% to 80% water because cells need water to be able to perform their physiological functions. Also, when severe dehydration occurs, the heart is at risk. The heart can suddenly stop, causing death. So, drink water every now and then during the course of your exercise. Don’t drink it in one gulp, but take infrequent but adequate amounts, as you exercise.

3. Don’t engage in exercises requiring you to carry heavy objects.

Lifting heavy objects can exert undue pressure on your kidneys. This can damage and impair their proper function.

4. Do warm-ups before your exercise by stretching.

Likewise, perform cooling down exercises after you’re done. Performing these exercises will ensure that your body is properly attuned before and after the exercises. Sudden changes in your body’s condition can cause problems.

5. Your exercises must be regular to provide you the health benefits that you can derive from them.

Studies have shown that persons with nephrolithiasis, who have exercised regularly, have increased the excretion of their urinary stones.

6. For the benefits of fitness exercises to be truly effective, you have to couple it with healthy living.

Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and avoid alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs.

Alcohol prevents the elimination of uric acid crystals from the body. Illicit drugs and nicotine can cause unhealthy changes in your body, such as dysfunctional respiration, mental depression or stimulation, and many more unhealthy side effects.


Fitness exercises for individuals with nephrolithiasis are the same as that of healthy persons, except for two major exercises: heavy weightlifting and strenuous exercises.

In addition, the person must not have any kidney complications or other debilitating pre-existing conditions. If there are, the person must ask approval first from his physician or urologist before performing any type of exercise.


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