Keeping your brain sharp on Dialysis – Part 2

2. Get Regular Physical Exercise

I have always done some kind of exercise, and for the last ten years, I have exercised regularly at least three times per week. I began this routine after a longish stay in hospital, when I felt especially dull, unmotivated and weary.  So I decided to get up half an hour early of a morning and walk or run.  It was difficult to begin with, especially in cool weather.  But I found that the secret not only of rapid recovery, but to feeling good: bright, alert and optimistic, is simple, physical exercise.

In fact, it has been proven that exercise has many amazing positive effects on the brain (click on Exercise – Brain Rule # 1 and enjoy the short video, then check out the slideshow).  There is so much we don’t know about our brains, but the good effects of exercise isn’t one of them.

Try it! Start with three or four laps round your bed and gradually build up.  Get out of the house and walk, jog, skip or pump iron. Pretty soon you’ll start getting the natural high that so many exercise nuts find addictive.  Dress the part: get into new gym clothes and gym shoes.  Doesn’t matter if the exercise lasts only 10 minutes: if you look the part, you’ll feel the part.  I found a really good book to advise and help with exercise: Matt Roberts Fitness for Life Manual.  It is practical, and has lots of pictures!

My routine is to exercise every second day, say Monday, Wednesday, Friday (and sometimes Sunday mornings).  For me, this is quite motivating, since I never dread the following day:  if it’s an exercise day, I can comfort myself that I can sleep-in tomorrow; and if it’s a sleep-in day, I can ease the guilt of cozying up knowing that it’s an exercise day tomorrow!

Once you’ve built up to 30 – 60 minute sessions and you’re in a routine, go for some variation.  It’s surprising how quickly your muscles get used to the same exercise.  Variation ensures that new muscles are being worked and things stay interesting. I tend to change my exercise routine about every three months, eg by varying the type of exercise, or the running/walking route.  You’ll know that it’s time for a change, if you start to not look forward to it.

The next, and equally important step in keeping your brain sharp on the Big D is mental exercise, the subject of my next post.

3 thoughts on “Keeping your brain sharp on Dialysis – Part 2

  1. Greg, once again I have to agree with your comments about exercise. Until recently I would walk about three Km per day and thought that was pretty good. Since listening to you I have started at a gym (haven’t been to one since I was in my 20s, (should show you that photo) I currently go 2-3 times per week. After only 2 months, I have been able to exercise my cardio-vascular system to the point where my heart rate has reduced significantly for the same exercise routine. It takes around 35-40 minutes for my routine and I don’t feel anywhere near as tired as I did when I started back in early March. I have been on the Big D for almost 4 years now and I am fitter now than I have been in over 10 years.
    I should also mention that I dialysis 5 times per week for 3 hours and I weight about 89Kg and I am 63 years old. The next step is to get a bike that I can use while I am on the machine, because this will help reduce my Phosphate levels.
    Thank for you advice and encouragement as always. – Max


  2. Pingback: Dialysis and getting rid of restless legs « Big D and Me

  3. Hi Everyone,
    Coby here I am not a dialysis patient I am a dialysis nurse please try not to hold it against me. I enjoy reading these blogs, and peoples responses, one thing you may not be aware of or nursing staff may have not mentioned, I have had many patients distressed by there inability to concentrate whilst on dialysis, so in keeping with keep your brain sharp some of you may find it benefical to know, that most dialysis patients find it difficult to concetrate whilst hooked up to the dialysis machine.

    This is due to the toxin and fluid shifts in the body during dialysis which causes mild swelling in the brain, which leads to you feeling sleepy, and cranky, and unbale to concentrate, some patients are unable even to read or watch T.V there concetration is that effected, also memory can be effected so some patients read but have trouble retaining what they have read, don’t think you are losing your marbles your not. I have had some patients who judge how well they are on dialysis by how easily they do the suduko or cross word that day.

    I hope this did not bore you, if anyone has any questions you can ask Greg and I am happy for him to ask me, though I am just a nurse lol and my not have all the answers.


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