Exercise is a great way to stay healthy. TRUE.
Having a condition such as Chronic Kidney Disease will give you certain physical limitations. TRUE.
But how much limitation is there when it comes to exercising for kidney disease patients? Many of the things we hear about this might be true, but many of them are just “hearsay”. Especially for patients undergoing dialysis, it’s important to know the facts from the myths, because we want to make sure that we are doing what’s best for our bodies.
Are these statements about exercise for CKD patients TRUE or FALSE? Read on to find out, and learn more about the benefits and the right ways of exercising for CKD and dialysis patients.
1. Dialysis patients cannot exercise because treatment makes their bodies weak.
Regular exercise actually has many advantages for CKD and dialysis patients:
- Strengthens your muscles and bones
- Prevents excessive weight gain
- Helps to control two major causes of Chronic Kidney Disease - blood pressure and diabetes
- Gives your body more energy
- Lifts your mood and fights depression
Best of all, exercise is a great reason to spend more time with your family and friends, doing something that is healthy not just for you as a patient, but for everyone!
2. You can try any exercise program that you want.
Before beginning any kind of exercise program, talk to your doctor to make sure you choose an activity that is right for your body and fitness level. Other important things to keep in mind:
- Always begin at low speed and low intensity, and gradually work your way up
- Avoid exercising in the middle of the day, right after taking you meals, and right before you go to sleep
- Have adequate water or fluids handy
- If you have Hypoglycemia, carry candy or chocolate
- If you feel dizzy or out of breath at any point during your exercise, stop and consult your doctor
3. PD and HD patients have different needs when it comes to exercise.
Depending on the type of dialysis you are undergoing, you may have different safety concerns. For example, when doing strengthening exercises, PD patients might want to avoid side crunches that will put pressure on their catheter site. HD patients ought to prevent pressure near and around their fistula. It is important to discuss your exercise plan with your Doctor before embarking on it.
4. You should always stretch before starting your exercise routine.
Stretching or flexibility exercises help improve the movement of your joints and reduce stiffness in your muscles. They also help to prevent injuries. Other than basic stretching exercises, some activities that also help you maintain and improve flexibility include tai chi, yoga, and dancing.
5. Running long distances is not advisable for kidney patients.
Cardiovascular or endurance exercises (more popularly known as “aerobic” exercises) improve your heart function and blood circulation, and result in improved stamina and energy levels. Other examples are walking, cycling or water exercise. Start with short distances and gradually increase your distance until you reach your goal – whether it is a walk from home to your clinic, or a full marathon. However – it is important to discuss your plans with your doctor.
6. It’s ok to lift weights even when on dialysis.
Strengthening or resistance exercises increase your muscle strength. These include lifting weights, stretching elastic bands, and using your own body as resistance through sit-ups, push-ups or crunches. These can be done even when you are undergoing dialysis. Just remember to consult with your doctor first about the best strengthening exercise for you, as this will vary according to your dialysis treatment.
7. Regular exercise means working out for the same amount of time every day.
Exercising regularly means setting your own goals, and working towards them at your own pace until you achieve them and are ready to move to the next goal. You should begin exercising at a length of time that is comfortable for you. Start by exercising for short sessions and gradually increase the duration. For example, start your walking regimen at 15 minutes per session. From there, gradually build up the duration of each session by adding a few minutes each week.
Aim to exercise at least three alternate days a week, such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and not every day – this will wear your body out. After your body has adjusted to the alternating days, you can add another day to your schedule. This pertains more to strengthening and cardiovascular exercises, while flexibility exercises can be done daily. It is important to check with your doctor before you begin an exercise program.
8. It is normal to be tired for a long time after you exercise.
Though it is normal to feel tired after exercise, the feeling of fatigue should wear off after about an hour. If you remain tired for an extended period of time, or experience any of the warning signs below, stop your exercise regime immediately and consult your doctor:
- Shortness of breath, dizziness, and irregular or rapid heart beats
- Too much muscle soreness that it keeps you from exercising during your next session
- The intensity should be a "comfortable push" level – You should feel that you are exerting energy during exercise, but not so much that all your energy is used up
Whatever you decide to do, exercising will help you stay healthy and feel happy. There’s no time like the present!