Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects millions of Americans and requires about 400,000 of those whose kidneys have failed to rely on life-sustaining dialysis treatments to clean waste products and remove extra fluids from their blood. Kidney failure is also often associated with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments – but despite these conditions, incorporating a healthy lifestyle can help dialysis patients feel better. Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, wants people on dialysis to know that increased physical activity – whether it’s walking, biking, dancing, gardening, swimming or something else – can strengthen their heart and other muscles, increase joint flexibility, improve circulation, digestion and sleep, and help to control their blood pressure and body weight. Increased physical activity has also been shown to reduce inflammation and depression, and to decrease the risk of hospitalization. This March, during National Kidney Month, FMCNA is reaching out to dialysis patients, as well as their families and caregivers, with the message that regular physical activity is one of the best ways for patients to improve their overall health and quality of life. For more information about FMCNA’s National Kidney Month events, recipes and information, please visit www.ultracare-dialysis.com/kidneymonth. “Patients who focus on fitness and good nutrition may feel better and be more functional,” says Dr. Dugan W. Maddux, vice president of chronic kidney disease initiatives at FMCNA. “Many patients also find that their energy levels are higher if they make time for regular physical activities.” Dialysis patients should talk with their physician before starting a new fitness program. At FMCNA facilities, nurses, social workers and dietitians are available to help patients of all fitness levels create customized programs for increasing their physical activity when cleared to do so by the patient’s physician. And, as the following tips from FMCNA illustrate, better fitness often starts with simple changes in patients’ daily routines:
Fitness Tips for Dialysis Patients
- Talk to your physician before starting an exercise program. Heart problems or difficulty walking, for example, may influence which activities are most appropriate.
- Choose an activity you enjoy, such as walking, biking, dancing, gardening, swimming or yoga.
- Start slow, beginning with 10 or 15 minutes of daily activity. Add more time after one or two weeks.
- Build exercise into your daily routine, by:
- Taking stairs instead of the elevator
- Walking or biking, rather than driving
- Taking your pet for a walk
- Parking farther away from the store or clinic entrance
- Pedaling or walking while watching TV
- Moving to music while you clean
- Stay loose, by stretching or doing yoga before starting aerobic exercise.
- Get plenty of rest, by aiming for at least eight hours of sleep every night. The good news is, exercise can help you sleep better!