A teenage girl is exercising by running and doing yoga.

How I Have Navigated Exercise With CKD

Fitness has always been an important part of my life. I believe to reap all benefits your body and mind has to offer, exercise needs to be included in your weekly routines. I don't think it particularly matters the type of exercise you do but as long as you're moving, your body is going to be very grateful.

Early stages of my CKD

Throughout my chronic kidney disease journey, basically growing up with only my left kidney and that functioned around stages 2-3, I was lucky to have minimal symptoms. During these earlier stages of CKD, I was able to go to the gym regularly. I could do a mixture of exercises including HIIT, swimming, yoga, cycling, running, and weights.

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One thing I did start to notice quite early on is that after a workout, I would get a routine blood test for my kidneys and my creatinine would always come back abnormally high. I mentioned this to the doctors and they didn't seem to think the gym would impact my results. Therefore, I did a bit more digging and realized two things:

  1. I'm going to be a bit more dehydrated after a workout therefore, my creatinine will be higher
  2. My muscles create creatinine (waste product) after I work out, which might make my creatinine look higher

In the end, I avoided blood tests straight after a workout. If anything, I started doing them beforehand. Overall working out during stages 2-3 was pretty standard. It was more into stage 4-5 it turned into a struggle.

Later stages of my CKD

By stage 4, I was exhausted and I honestly just thought I was starting to get lazy. I wasn't going to the gym regularly and when I did, I made the sessions short and sweet just so I could tick off going to the gym on my mental list. I noticed I wasn't able to push myself like I used to, and my variation in exercise reduced to weight training as anything cardio related I was out of breath from walking up stairs.

At this point, my hemoglobin was at an all time low, my energy was gone, my heart would pound so fast and I was so weak. But I still put this down to me being lazy. In turn, I became very hard on myself for exercising less and not being able to get up and go like others could.

Once I was in stage 5 and on the brink of dialysis, I was still attempting the gym, only now I would feel sick after my workouts for about 10-20 minutes. They were only 30 minutes of weight training sessions, but my body was not coping.

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Dialysis and hindsight

Once I was put on dialysis, I realized how much better I felt and how much more I could do. I realized how hard I was on myself, but it's honestly hard to know whether it's your mind or your body playing tricks when you're living in survival mode.

Now being on dialysis, I try to incorporate yoga into my daily routine. It's only 20 minutes, but I want to keep up my strength for a transplant while not overworking my kidney. I learnt HIIT and weight training can put a lot of stress on the already malfunctioning kidney. Whereas yoga keeps you strong but it is gentle on your body and great for your mind. There are definitely days I wish I could do more and I still attempt to, but I'm nowhere near as hard on myself as I used to be. I'm more accepting of the parameters I can work around.

This or That

In addition to chronic kidney disease, do you also live with diabetes?

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