Physical Fitness Improves Kidney Disease Outcomes

It may seem a little unfair to talk to patients with kidney disease, especially those on dialysis, about how physically fit they are, when they’ve already got so much to deal with. It may be tempting for them to feel that they need to keep quiet and relaxed so they don’t strain anything. But keeping as fit as possible can actually help their condition.

We already know that interconnections in the body mean that if you have one physical problem, like diabetes, you have a higher likelihood of developing others such as hypertension or kidney failure. In the same way, strengthening the body to deal with or prevent one problem can ease a related problem. So a person may find that by getting some exercise they will lower their blood pressure and perhaps lose some weight. This, in turn, will ease the strain on the kidneys. And having good muscle tone and a well functioning cardiovascular system will always be of benefit.

The National Kidney Foundation recommends exercise for kidney patients, but also recognizes that they shouldn’t overdo things. It’s probably not a wise move, for example, to plan a climbing excursion to Mount Everest. But after consultation with a doctor, these patients can engage in certain recommended activities. Heavy lifting is probably out, but there are other things that can be done, some of them fairly strenuous.

For example, a type of workout that exercises a large array of muscle groups at once, and goes on continuously, can be very beneficial. This would include things like swimming, walking, cycling, or even skiing. Exercise sessions should go perhaps 30-45 minutes, every second day, three days a week.

Kidney patients may be uneasy about the extra work they might make their bodies do by exercising. But under a doctor’s supervision, getting themselves in as good a shape as possible will only do them good.

(Further reading: National Kidney Foundation)

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