Joe Cosgrove has previously covered the topic of dialysis from all possible angles. In fact, one of the most important aspects of the things that surround this condition is the need for physical activity, for it has been proven that a dialysis lifestyle with limited or non-existent physical activity can worsen the condition and increase the risk of falling into severe depression, high blood pressure, lower and weaker immune function, heart disease and swelling in both feet and lungs.
Many dialysis patients firmly believe they cannot do any physical activity because the conditions prevent them from carrying out what would be traditionally considered “normal” exercise; however, it has been proven by many institutions, physicians and studies that even a mild and minor workout for short periods ranging from 15 to 20 minutes—of course, tailored to every case—can result in a positive outcome for those patients. Not only can regular physical activity cause a much healthier blood flow, stronger muscles and improve overall immune function, but it also will help maintain healthy tissue which is linked to aiding digestion, absorption, and metabolism in general.
Dialysis patients must determine with their primary physician the type of workout they should attempt, paying special attention to not overheating during the exercise, for it can lead to increased fluid consumption and overload. Although extreme workouts like weight lifting should totally be avoided due to the fistula, those with heart conditions can definitely find exercise beneficial. It is fine to workout to a point where the individual feels tired and even short of breath to some extent; however, they should pay special attention to not getting past the point of exhaustion. Symptoms such as chest pain and sudden shortness of breath, and even severe muscular pain and joint pain should be enough for individuals to stop every physical activity and seek advice with their primary physicians.
When it comes to the nature of the exercises, there are plenty of choices. There are many indoor workouts and exercises those individuals on dialysis can carry out; however, as mentioned above, the wisest thing to do is to consult with a nephrologist prior to recklessly rushing into it. A doctor can tailor a workout routine that will aid those with this condition. For instance, one of the most important yet disregarded physical activities is stretching. Stretching has proven to be effective at warming up the muscles and ligaments, thusly increasing the blood flow across the body. And, above all, the best part of stretching is that it can be done pretty much anywhere and does not require special equipment.
Stretching is obviously crucial prior to executing more demanding exercises, as well as after a workout. And although it might seem almost pretty much self-explanatory, it is nonetheless advisable to first consult with the nephrologist what kind of stretching activities are best for each stage of the condition. Bear in mind that the idea is to avoid any kind of damage to the vascular access.
Cardiovascular workouts are also of tremendous importance for those individuals on dialysis. Cardiovascular exercises, commonly referred to as simply cardio, is linked to providing important benefits to the heart. People who have a home gym or are looking forward to putting one together should go for either a treadmill or a stationary bike since both are perfect options for cardiovascular indoor exercises. And even though not everybody has got enough space at home to bring in large pieces of equipment, there will always be alternatives such as jogging in place just to get the heartbeat up.
A very wise thing to do is to keep a journal day after day. It is known that being on dialysis is quite nagging, but things can be improved nonetheless. Logging one’s progress each day by timing how long did the workout last is a way to push oneself towards a new personal mark—which provides emotional support and enhances current mood—. It is important not to disregard the tremendous effect striving to accomplish a goal can have on people under similar conditions. Renal failure, in this case, supposes a daunting challenge: individuals struggle with the condition, and the odds of falling victim of depression are high. However, and as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, not only is exercise beneficial for the condition but also brings along a much greater effect: improves mentality and attitude. No matter how nagging the condition may be, ceasing not to do everything to improve at least something about the whole picture is vital: it makes people mentally stronger while they improve their bodies.
Dialysis is not the end of the road: is quite a speed bump, but it can be made livable by setting the right expectations and internalizing the fact that movement is life. Work out and start making changes today.