How Much Can Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Lift With Their Fistula Arm Without Damaging It?

"I want to begin working out again" a regular Hemodialysis patient viewer wrote. "Right now I am walking a few times a week, but I would like to do more, such as push-ups and weight lifting. How much weight can I safely lift with my AV Fistula arm? I'm very curious."

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This is an excellent question, one which I have frequently seen on the Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages. That said, does not offer medical advice. This issue specifically may vary based upon the individual and their unique circumstances. For that reason, always consult with your Nephrologists for individual advice. What we will offer, however, is available news and information about how much a patient is generally able to lift which may not potentially cause damage.  

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In the past you might have been advised not to lift any heavy objects or put pressure on your access arm because this can limit circulation and destroy your AV Fistula. While good intentioned, I am sure you thought, "Well geez, now I can't lift anything with this arm?" Many Chronic Kidney Disease patients on Dialysis are concerned about lifting their wallet out of their pocket, lifting weights, or even helping to bring groceries out of their cars because of the fact that they do not want to lift "heavy" objects.

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What is "heavy" you may ask? In general, Chronic Kidney Disease patients as well as Healthcare Professionals suggest to lift no more than 5 to 10 pounds with your Fistula Arm. To give you an idea of what this means in real terms: 1 gallon of milk is 8 pounds. There are some patients that far exceed this "5 to 10 pound rule," but they likely have the input of their Nephrologists who have recommended a specific weight limit for that Dialysis patient.

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Clearly, most Chronic Kidney Disease patients with AV Fistulas can feel free to lift their bill-fold out of their pocket or help carry a light grocery bag from the car, but what about exercising? Those on Dialysis with AV Fistulas in their arm or even Peritoneal Dialysis patients with Abdominal Catheters, may be recommended by their Nephrologists to lift light weights to avoid harming Dialysis Access Sites (AV Fistula or Abdominal Catheter). Lifting even light weights every other day can help increase patients' blood flow, build muscle, help them become stronger and gain energy . 

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You may be surprised to learn that push-ups are also an exercise listed on the "Calisthenics (aerobic exercises) for people on dialysis" list, authored by the large Dialysis provider, DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. There are various types of push-ups including Wide Arm (standard push-up), and Modified (pushing up from bent knees for less resistance) push-ups. Ask your Healthcare Team which is best for you.

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Although it is critically important for you to maintain the health of your AV Fistula, leading a life where you're hypersensitive to what you can and cannot hold (groceries, weights, doors, bags, etc.) hampers your ability to lead a high quality life that is as unrestrained as possible. Now YOU have a general guideline which you can use to lead a fuller more successful life with Chronic Kidney Disease and while on Dialysis. 

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