Cardiac rehab is the gold standard for practically all patients following a heart attack or diagnosis of heart disease.
The same goes for chronic lung diseases. Asthma… COPD…. bronchitis? Expect to be hustled into a program that will give you exercise training, ways to help you breathe better, and even nutritional advice.
But if you’ve got chronic kidney disease, there’s no doubt you’ve been left out in the cold. No rehab for you!
And that means a whole lot of kidney patients aren’t being told about the advantages of something that can improve all aspects of living with this condition.
Dave Edwards may very well be one of the most popular guys at the University of Delaware.
The Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology professor assembled a team to find out if a specially supervised exercise program could improve the health of those with CKD.
Once word got out, however, his phone was ringing off the hook. Not only did dialysis clinics want to send in participants, but transplant doctors were anxious to get patients into the program as well.
And Professor Edwards’ lab became a gym of sorts, filled with kidney patients working out on bikes and treadmills, while being closely monitored (and encouraged!) by the study team.
In fact, when the research ran its course of 12 weeks, it left a lot of disappointed people wanting more. That certainly says a lot — I mean, how often do you have to turn people (especially those with a chronic disease) away from an exercise program?
Specifically, the program that was designed improved blood vessel health and “exercise capacity.”
Some of the biggest problems those with CKD face are keeping diabetes and blood pressure under control, along with staying on top of weight gain, as transplant drugs can have you packing on the pounds.
Plus, it turns out that the main cause of death in those with CKD isn’t their kidneys — it’s heart disease. So, exercise is doubly important.
But this rehab program, Edwards says, can improve not only the health of kidney patients, but also their “everyday quality of life.”
As it turned out, the program was benefiting so many patients that the professor received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study this further, and he opened a “renal rehab” program in his community.
But just because doctors and hospitals in your area may not have established something similar doesn’t give you a free pass to become a couch potato!
Walking, as simplistic as it seems, has actually been found to be one of the best exercises out there. It can benefit practically all aspects of your health.
Other recent research has found that walking increases the blood flow to the brain, which can make you a lot sharper mentally. The theory is that when our feet hit the ground, it creates a kind of “rhythm” that keeps the brain’s blood flow at optimal levels.
Another new study says that by taking a short 10-minute walk after eating can slash your postprandial blood sugar readings!
With over 26 million Americans now suffering from CKD, hopefully more programs like what Professor Edwards started will become a routine part of renal care.
But there’s really no reason to wait.
Ask your doctor what kind of exercise you can safely participate in… and start doing it.
And instead of crashing on the couch after dinner, go out for a stroll — even if it’s just once around the block!
“Combating chronic kidney disease with exercise” University of Delaware, June 28, 2017, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com