Having a problem with your kidneys can impact many parts of your life, including your mental and physical health. Exercise and being more active can help your feel better, even when you’re on dialysis.
Yes, almost everyone who does dialysis can exercise. The type of exercise you choose depends on what type of dialysis you do, your medical conditions, how active you are now, and what you like to do.
Yes, you can exercise during hemodialysis treatment (while you’re hooked up to the dialysis machine). Some dialysis units in Alberta even have exercise programs that you can take part in.
If you do peritoneal dialysis, you can be active while you have the dialysis fluid in your body.
Talk to your healthcare provider before you begin exercising while on dialysis and during your dialysis treatment. They may suggest you see an exercise specialist, like a physiotherapist or a kinesiologist, to get you started on an exercise program. They can also suggest the types of exercise that are best for you.
The benefits of exercising during dialysis treatment include:
Yes, you can exercise at home or do a community exercise class. You can also exercise even if you have trouble walking or can’t walk. Any exercise is good for you, including activities you enjoy that get you moving.
Talk to an exercise specialist about what types of exercises are best for you. They can also give you an exercise program that is safe and based on your health and fitness goals.
If you have heart problems, talk to your healthcare provider about getting exercise through a
cardiac rehabilitation program.
To get started on your own:
An exercise specialist can help you choose the best types of exercise. A complete exercise program is made up of 4 types of exercise – strengthening, cardiovascular, flexibility, and balance exercises.
Strengthening exercises use resistance through weights, elastic bands, or your own body weight to make your muscles work harder. These types of exercises make you stronger, have better balance, and can make your daily activities easier to do.
Cardiovascular exercises (also called aerobic or endurance exercises):
Cardiovascular exercises use repeated movements of your arms, legs, or both. They include walking, riding a bike, and running.
Flexibility exercises target your joints to help you to bend, reach, and move more easily. These exercises use slow movements to gently stretch muscles. Flexibility exercises help you keep a healthy range of motion.
Balance exercises help with you keep your balance (stability) throughout the day. These exercises target small muscles to help your body find its position in space. Having good balance is very important to prevent falls.
You may be surprised to learn that exercise can make you feel less tired. On the days you don’t have dialysis, try to work out earlier when you’re likely to have the most energy. Remember that even 10 minutes of exercise is good for you.
Ask your healthcare team if they have exercise programs you can do while you’re getting dialysis treatment. This is a great way to pass the time while you're having treatment. There will also be a kinesiologist there to help guide you.
Talk to your doctor if you feel too tired to exercise or do other things you want to do. They can check your red blood cell count to make sure it isn’t too low. They can also suggest other things to help you feel less tired and be more active.
Make exercise fun by:
Keep a log and write down every time you exercise, what you did, and how long you exercised. This is great way to see your progress.
You can also talk to an exercise specialist about:
There are other ways to be more active, such as:
Learn more about fitness and exercise.
Current as of: October 7, 2020
Author: Medicine SCN (Kidney Health Section)
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