The Importance of Physical Therapy for Dialysis Patients

Imagine there was a cure to:

  • Decreased energy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inconsistent blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of heart disease

 …would you consider it? YES! There is something available that can give you some or all of these benefits. CONDITIONING THROUGH PHYSICAL THERAPY!

Most dialysis patients believe they cannot exercise. The truth is—most dialysis patients CAN exercise.

Many renal patients describe regular exercise as the first activity that made them feel “normal” again after starting dialysis treatments. 

Motion—even if it is only for a short  time each day—helps the patient with chronic kidney disease feel better, stronger and more in control of their health.  Medical professionals working in renal rehabilitation have shown that a regular exercise program, however limited, not only enhances a person’s  potential for physical activity, but also improves the overall quality of life for people on dialysis.

How Does Exercise Benefit Patients On Dialysis? When patients begin to exercise  regularly, one of the first things they notice is an increase in the amount of energy they have.  Not only will that make it easier for patients to continue with a new workout regimen, it will make it easier for them to go to work, conquer household chores, accomplish the goals they set for themselves, and engage in hobbies and activities they enjoyed prior to being diagnosed. This is not only beneficial physically, but  also emotionally. Patients participating in a regular exercise program report feeling “more like myself,” when they accomplish even the simple tasks.

In addition, patients may find themselves enjoying some of the other benefits of regular exercise:

  •  Help with digestion
  • Increase you energy level
  • Reduce cholesterol levels
  • Help control your blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Helps to decrease stress

 Talk to Your Doctor or Physical Therapist. The most important thing to do is talk to your doctor. They can tell what exercise is best for you because they will know what you can and can’t do depending on your current stage of kidney disease and treatment. Your doctor most likely will be very happy that you are asking about exercise. They can also help you to talk with a physical therapist. These are the experts who help people with all sorts of ailments, begin to exercise again. Together, your doctor and the physical therapist can watch your progress, help you monitor your activity level and make your exercise program fun.

 Too Tired to Exercise? Many people on dialysis say they are too tired to exercise. They think that if they exercise they will be even more tired. The fact is, even a little bit of exercise, 15-20 minutes a day, will help you feel LESS tired. This means that by not exercising you will have lower energy and feel more tired. The longer you wait to exercise, the more tired and weak you will become.

 Setting Up a Physical Therapy Exercise Program

 1) Stretching Program: Another reason why many dialysis patients feel they cannot exercise is because they feel they are simply too weak to do anything. It is easier to start exercising if your stretch first. Stretching is something that all dialysis patients can do. It can improve your range of motion and muscle length to help you perform daily activities, such as bending, reaching, eating, etc. more easily.

2) Strengthening Program: Muscle wasting is extremely common, and one of the strongest risk factors for premature death in patients with chronic kidney disease. Strengthening during dialysis treatment can improve muscle mass and quality of life.

3) Endurance Training Program: Patients undergoing are highly susceptible to cardiovascular complications and fatigue. Exercise helps decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and increases stamina to eliminate the debilitating side effects of fatigue.



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