Surprising Exercise Habits That Actually Cause Major Complications In CKD Patients


Some patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and those on dialysis spend a considerable amount of time at home, at the gym or even in their dialysis center exercising. However, they are often not getting the results that they expect or desire and may in fact be putting themselves at risk of greater injury. Chances are you might have a bad habit or two when it comes to exercising. Never fear, there's a quick fix for even the most ingrained workout "no-nos" as well as strategies to lose weight, properly tone muscles and improve health outcomes. 

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In the past, many with CKD thought that they could not do vigorous physical activity. As reported by Kidney-Friends this is not the case, "We know now that patients who decide to follow an exercise program are stronger and have more energy." It is difficult, however, to determine how vigorous a person with CKD should exercise, but the intensity should be a "comfortable push" level. Start out slowly each session to warm up, then pick up your pace, then slow down again when you are about to finish. The most important thing is to start slowly and progress gradually, allowing your body to adapt to the increased levels of activity. Your breathing should not be so hard that you cannot talk with someone exercising with you. Also you should feel completely normal within one hour after exercising and if not, slow down next time. There should be no severe muscle soreness that keeps you from exercising during your next scheduled session.

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Do not do the same exercises over and over again. When you do the same workout routine over and over, your body gets used to it and it becomes easier. Your body will only use half the energy to complete this task that at one point had you huffing and puffing before completion. So, mix it up! Choose continuous activity such as walking, swimming, bicycling (indoors or out), skiing, aerobic dancing or any other activities in which you need to move large muscle groups continuously. Cardio exercise is important for your heart and lungs, especially for those on dialysis. Cardio exercise includes brisk walking, jogging, rebounding, swimming, aerobics classes or cycling. You can also play tennis, basketball, squash or any other sport that gets you moving and that you enjoy. The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) says that one product called, Specific Bicycle, enables patients to exercise while undergoing dialysis.

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Many CKD patients avoid lifting weights all together. However, low-level strengthening exercises may be greatly beneficial as part of a workout plan for people with CKD. Livestrong recommends that those with CKD should design a program to use very light weights and high repetitions as well as avoid heavy lifting. The intensity of your strength-training sessions will depend on your overall condition, so give your best effort with each exercise whether you are having a high- or low-energy day. You can use light dumbbells, resistance bands of varying thickness or your own body weight to provide resistance to your muscles. Exercises like arm curls, leg extensions with ankle weights, overhead arm extensions and squats will help build your muscles. Talk with your Nephrologist before beginning any weightlifting regimen as you can cause a major health set back (damage fistula, PD catheter, or arm) if you are not very careful. 

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Do not forget to stretch! If you begin strenuous workouts such as lifting weights with cold muscles then you are risking injury. Warm up for five minutes with light cardio and basic stretches. Keeping your body loose and flexible will give you much needed energy. When doing flexibility exercises (stretching), think "tall" with each movement and breathe deeply. Stretch your neck, arms, shoulders, back and legs regularly. Your Nephrologist should have a complete list of static and dynamic stretches you can do that will be gentle on your body, but still accomplish your goal.

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Plan your workouts and follow through. This will allow you to consistently workout which will be most effective at improving results. understands that in some cases you cannot exercise as scheduled and encourages you not to if you have a fever, changed your dialysis schedule, changed your medicine schedule, experience a major change in your physical condition, eaten too much, the weather is very hot and humid or you have joint or bone problems that become worse with exercise. Before starting or altering your exercise plan, talk with your Nephrologist. Issues to discuss are tiredness, shortness of breath, irregular or rapid heartbeats, sick to the stomach feeling, leg cramps and light-headedness.  

*Note: Do not forget to order your All Purpose CKD Band!   

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"Top 7 Fitness Exercise Tips for Kidney Patients."  Kidney-Friends.


Grannell, Rachael. "7 Workout Habits You Should Drop Now." The Huffington Post.