Physical activities

New guidelines outline safe physical activities for dialysis patients

Are you on dialysis for kidney failure and guess swimming or sit-ups are out of the question? Think again. New international guidelines have been released on the eve of Kidney Health Week showing how important it is for dialysis patients to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.

Dialysis patient Dean Churcham demonstrates the benefits of regular exercise. Image credit: UniSA

Led by UniSA Associate Professor and nephrology expert Paul Bennett, the best practice guidelines developed by clinicians, patients and researchers around the world outline safe activities for people on peritoneal dialysis to maintain and improve their quality of life.

The guidelines – a world first – give clinicians and dialysis patients clear advice on which exercises are safe or risky, how often they should be performed and the necessary precautions.

For too long, people on dialysis have been discouraged from exercising due to perceived barriers and uncertainty about the best exercise regimen. But if we don’t address this lack of physical activity, their independence and quality of life will suffer.


Paul Bennett, Associate Professor, UniSA

Chronic kidney disease affects around 1.7 million Australians, but that number is set to rise exponentially due to its links to type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 38% of all new cases, and high blood pressure.

Other causes include immune diseases, congenital conditions, or genetic disorders, such as polycystic kidney disease.

“Few dialysis clinicians are exercise experts, which can be a barrier when recommending programs to their patients,” says Professor Assoc Bennett. “This is why the involvement of exercise physiologists and physical therapists in dialysis programs is imperative.”

Walking, cycling, and core-strengthening exercises such as swimming are recommended, as long as the catheter is covered and immobilized with tape to prevent it from getting wet or sweat seeping into the exit wound.

All activities that cause abdominal strain, including sit-ups, should be avoided for several weeks after surgery, but basic exercises under the supervision of an exercise professional can benefit many patients.

“Exercises that improve abdominal strength are particularly valuable because weak abdominal muscles can increase the risk of hernias and put extra pressure on the lumbar spine, especially when accompanied by up to two liters of fluid in the stomach. peritoneal space.”

“Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous. Even elastic fitness bands for resistance work can be used for frail, intermediate and high level dialysis patients to use at home.

“We are also encouraging people to continue working where possible. Also, sexual activity can be important for many patients,” he says.

According to Professor Assoc Bennett, incorporating physical activity into a lifestyle, such as regular exercise for 20-30 minutes several times a week, is likely to improve the mental and physical health of a dialysis patient. .

“It is important to note that people on peritoneal dialysis may suffer from social isolation. Exercise and group activities can help if safe and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

To help explain the best exercise for kidney health, UniSA exercise physiologist Brett Tarca will give a free online session on Tuesday, March 8 from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. People can register at https://bit.ly/3syNADH

Kidney Health Week runs from March 7-13. For more details go to https://kidney.org.au/get-involved/kidney-health-week