Study: Exercise Helps Renal Patients Improve Health

When you have renal disease, there's a long list of side effects that can make you feel like not doing anything. Even with medication and a Renal-Friendly diet, it can be hard.

But new research suggests that making the effort to stay active can improve your quality of life and protect against heart disease, the leading cause of death in people with renal disease.

Researchers at the University of Delaware wanted to find out if a customized exercise program could help improve blood vessels in patients with renal disease. For each renal patient in the program, they identified their most significant risk factors.

Then they developed an exercise program based on their goals, and worked with patients in a small group setting to exercise in safe environment. It's a regular part of rehab for patients who need special care for cardiac or pulmonary health issues. But exercise hasn't been part of the treatment program for renal patients...until now.

So what happened to the renal patients who participated in the exercise program? Their health improved. They felt better. And they wanted to keep exercising, even after the study came to an end, says lead researcher Dr. Dave Edwards.

"Exercise may have an array of health benefits to these patients," says Edwards, "ranging from keeping their diabetes under control, maintaining healthy muscles and blood vessels to controlling weight gains after a transplant that are associated with prescribed medications."

If you want to exercise to improve your health and manage renal disease, talk to your doctor about it.

The National Kidney Foundation recommends starting small with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and gradually work up to 30 minutes a day. Examples of effective forms of exercise for renal patients can include walking, swimming, cycling, and even strength training. Set a goal to exercise at least three days a week.

There's at least one more piece of advice that can't be overlooked. You can't out-exercise a bad diet. That's just as true for athletes as it is for patients with renal disease. Make sure you're following the guidelines of a Renal-Friendly diet by limiting the amount of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein you consume.