Benefits of Regular Exercise for Kidney Dialysis Paitents and Other Chronic Disease Populations: Our Ongoing Study and Observations

Alive to Strive has partnered with Top Shape Fitness Studio to offer “Let’s Get Moving” fitness classes for Ottawa-area residents living with kidney disease. Below is a guest blog by Top Shape Fitness Studio about these classes.

Imagine if fitness could mean the difference between keeping your job or going back to work!  Imagine if fitness gave you the ability to play with your grandchildren or it may just mean the ability to live in your own home.

Two days a week at McNabb Park Community Centre in Ottawa, TopShape Fitness with the support of the Alive to Strive Kidney Fitness Project, http://alivetostrive.ca  provides a 1 hour group exercise class for those suffering from chronic kidney disease. This project started in the summer of 2013 and continues to improve the lives of those who are lucky enough to know about it.  Please help spread the word.

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Why does simple exercise mean so much to these individuals?

  • More energy
  • stronger muscles and bones
  • control blood pressure
  • fight depression
  • reduce the risk of heart disease and insulin control, to name just a few…..

A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephorology, 2004; studied 11 patients exercises in a group class 2x week for 1 hour. The results show a “significant” improvement in reducing arterial stiffness and insulin resistance. These are two independent risk factors for cardiac mortality rates in this population.

Shana Boland is an Alive to Strive participant working with a personal trainer here at TopShape Fitness Studio.  She is an example of someone who was not well enough to even start the group exercise class. She definitely wasn’t able to join a regular gym in town nor would her doctor okay her for regular exercise or class at a gym. Where does someone with a chronic condition turn? “I couldn’t walk without a walker or cane. Then I was on the verge of not being able to walk across the room without severe pain. I couldn’t go by myself without assistance or walker in my own home.  I was losing my independence. I was frustrated and gave-up and didn’t know where to turn”, says Boland.
“Then I learned about the Alive to Strive Fitness Project. When I started exercising I couldn’t walk on a treadmill for 1 minute. After exercising for just 1 month, my endurance, balance and energy has improved. My sleep has improved! I can walk outside, down the block to the corner and back. I can walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes or even more. It’s amazing! It has changed my life!”

Each exercise session includes strength, cardiovascular and a flexibility component.
Strength is the key to endurance.  Having more energy throughout the day is one of the first goals class members listed. This is one reason why a class such as “Alive to Strive” can produce such dramatic results.  In the class we use weights, dyna-bands, body weight exercises and stability balls.
Cardiovascular exercise can help cut down or cut out blood pressure medications. cardiovascular exercise in conjunction with strength training can reduce body fat, control cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems.
Flexibility : By making muscles stronger  and joints more flexible, it becomes easier to reach, bend do other daily activities. This training leads to a better sense of balance and coordination.
The biggest benefit in having a class like this is the expertise. Having instructors and trainers who are familiar with yours’ and other chronic conditions is essential in protecting the individual and helping them get the most out of each workout.

Many kidney patients feel washed out and exhausted without doing anything at all.  Striking the proper balance of intensity and duration of movement is essential for boosting immune function and not fatiguing or causing adrenal stress.  This is why joining a regular exercise class at your local gym may not be the best idea.  TopShape has worked and researched for 20 years to understand the proper balance between type of exercise, time of exercise and intensity of movement.  This results in reduced weakness, reduced fat stores, and an increase in heart and lung efficiency and an increase in coordination of movement.

Can I even exercise?  This the first question that most dialysis patients ask when informed about this program. If you are healthy except for kidney failure, you can exercise. The real question should be: what if I don’t exercise. It will most certainly lead to secondary disabilities requiring a cane or wheelchair to get around.

Lastly, one of the most important benefits of exercise for dialysis patients is the efficiency of dialysis.  If your body could help remove toxins without dialysis, then sessions could be easier, faster and less frequent in some cases. A study by Alberta Health Services in 2010, showed patients with kidney failure removed significantly more waste and toxins from their blood when pedaling a stationary bike.  Regular exercise showed an increased removal of ‘Urea’.  Dr. Davina Tai said, “It’s very exciting. Urea removal is related to the clearance of other toxins and we know this is associated with better survival and decreased morbidity (disease) in hemodialysis  patients”.

The new session for the alive to strive class begins May 6th. Our goal is to add more classes in the future as the word gets out and the number of participants demand it.

Also, TopShape is proud to sponsor the 5K wheelchair portion of the the Alive to Strive 2014 charity race on Sunday, April 27th at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility.  Please show up and lend your support for this great cause. We guarantee great weather.

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