Sticking to a healthy lifestyle in quarantine

Did you know that living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent or slow down the progression of kidney disease and help protect a newly transplanted kidney? Small changes, like eating healthier and limiting alcohol and tobacco use, can help control diabetes and high blood pressure—the two leading causes of kidney disease. If you are on dialysis, following the food and fluid plan recommended by your doctor and dietitian will help keep the nutrients and minerals in your blood at a healthy level, and adding an activity to your daily routine can help you feel healthier and maintain a healthy weight. Being active can also help lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol, improve your heart and lung health, increase your energy levels, and make you feel less stressed.

Staying active during the coronavirus crisis can be especially challenging for people with kidney disease because they are high risk for COVID-19 and may not want to risk their health even just to go outside for a walk. Here are some ways to get in some exercise and improve your overall wellness while you are quarantined at home.

Exercise:

1. Make a schedule.

Schedule time for exercise and physical activity like you would for any other appointment. If possible, pick the same time every day to exercise. This will help staying active become part of your daily routine.

2. Use what you have around the house to exercise.

Stand, instead of sitting, whenever you can to increase your circulation and burn a few extra calories throughout the day. Jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and walking or jogging in place can all be done almost anywhere. You can even walk up and down the stairs if you have them. These exercises do not require you to have any additional equipment at home.
Try searching Google or YouTube to see how to do these other home exercises:

  • Canned foods can be used as light weights to do arm exercises, such as bicep curls. A towel can help you stretch, tone muscles and become more flexible.
  • If you cannot do push-ups on the floor, try doing them against a wall or stairs. These modifications can help you build arm strength and make doing push-ups easier on your wrists.
  • Use a bottom step in your house or a sturdy chair to do triceps dips.

Exercising in your yard or outside your home will give you a chance to get some fresh air while increasing your vitamin D levels. If you choose to go out, make sure to practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people. You should also consider wearing a mask or cloth face covering as recommended by the CDC.

3. Try a streaming or virtual exercise class.

If you prefer to not work out on your own, many gyms and fitness centers are streaming free classes for the public during the pandemic. Look up some of the gyms in your area on Facebook or Instagram to see if they posted a live streaming schedule or have any virtual class videos you can watch at your convenience. If you cannot find a gym or fitness center’s videos, try downloading a free workout app for your smartphone from the App Store or Google Play Store.
YouTube is also an excellent source of free guided workouts. Try searching for an activity you like that matches your fitness level or age. Examples of some searches you can do include: “yoga for beginners,” “seated stretches for seniors” or “HIIT exercises for athletes.” (HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.)

Wellness:

1. Get plenty of rest.

Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. Your body’s clock, or circadian rhythm, controls how sleepy or energized you feel during the day, which can impact your mood and emotions. Having the same sleep schedule every day will also allow you to get a deeper and more restful night’s sleep.

2. Meditate.

Meditating and doing deep breathing exercises can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate, reduce stress and give you mental clarity. There are many free apps on the App Store and Google Play Store that can guide you through meditation and deep breathing exercises. You can also search for “guided meditation” and “guided deep breathing” on YouTube for free videos.

3. Do something that makes you feel good.

Take a bubble bath, stretch, listen to music or a podcast, play an instrument, curl up with a book, draw or paint, and play a game with other people you live with.

4. Take in some culture or learn something new.

Take a virtual tour of your favorite museums or look through the online exhibits on their websites. Watch a live stream of animals at your local zoo or fish at your local aquarium.

Exercise your mind by starting to learn a new language or attending a free online class for a skill or subject matter that interests you.

5. Stay in touch with your loved ones.

Talking with your friends and family via phone or video calls, text messages and social media will keep you feeling connected and social. Doing so can also help improve your mental health during this stressful time.

You can find more information and resources for kidney patients by visiting our special coronavirus webpage at KidneyFund.org/coronavirus. AKF will update the page with important information for kidney patients and their caregivers as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

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About the Author(s)

Margaret Solar

Margaret Solar is the director of patient services at the American Kidney Fund

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