Fatness To Fitness Is The Key
Jean Kerr, an Irish-American author once said, “I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being skin deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want, adorable pancreas?” I beg to disagree with this statement of Kerr and prefer to look ‘deeper.’ I would much rather have adorable pancreas and an adorable kidney and liver than adorable skin’ And the key to adorable kidneys is fitness and exercise.
I could write a book on the various excuses people give to avoid exercise and the title of that book would be l don’t have the time.’ Since we all have the same 24 hours in a day, I cannot buy this excuse and nor could British Statesman, Edward Stanley who said, “Those who cannot find time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
Exercise Improves Kidney Health
Cardiovascular disease (diseases of the heart and blood vessels that supply vital organs like brain, kidneys, liver, and lungs) is by far, the number one killer in the developed world. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease are the most important risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease.
Obesity has become a global epidemic. Modern lifestyles, labour-saving technologies, abundance of food and general prosperity lead to over-consumption and under-expenditure of energy. Less than 100 kcal/day gap in the balance of energy consumption and expenditure can lead to gradual but steady weight gain.
Obesity worsens diabetes and blood pressure and leads to damage of blood vessels by deposition of cholesterol and triglycerides within them. Fat also directly injures the lining of blood vessels (called endothelium) and directly causes injury to the functional unit of the kidney called the glomerulus.
Nowadays, fat is considered an endocrine organ which produces harmful hormones. Shockingly, obesity in pregnancy has been linked to the development of diabetes and high blood pressure in the offspring when they reach adulthood. Hence, we owe it not only to us but to our children as well to control obesity.
All over the world, diabetes and high blood pressure are the commonest causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. Several studies have shown that obesity not only causes kidney disease but also accelerates existing kidney disease. To protect the kidneys, the unholy trio of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity need to be kept at bay. And research has conclusively shown that exercise is the most efficient way to do this.
Regular exercise protects normal individuals as well as diabetics and individuals with high blood pressure from kidney disease. Among those with established kidney disease, regular exercise slows down the progression and limits the damage caused by kidney dysfunction.
Some Of The Many Benefits Of Exercise
- Weight Reduction: If you look good you feel good and ¡t you feel good you look good.
- Feeling Of Well-Being: Release of happy hormones like endorphins and enkephalins.
- Blood Pressure Reduction: 10 to 20 mmHg reduction with exercise and weight loss.
- Reduction In Risk Of Diabetes: In non-diabetics and better blood sugar control in diabetics.
- Improvement In Muscle Strength: Improved physical function and bone strength.
- Reduction In Anxiety: Depression and better sleep.
- Reduction In Risk Of Falls: By improving muscle strength and function.
- Lowering levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol).
- Raising levels of HDL cholesterol (‘good cholesterol).
A Lifetime Commitment
Recommendations are to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity. The operative word here is ‘at least’ and there is nothing magical about 150 minutes. If one feels okay, the duration can definitely be extended to 200 or 300 minutes per week. The common mistake made by most novices is to target tour to five days of exercise per week. We all know that with our busy schedules this target invariably reduces to three to four days per week. The trick is to aim for six to seven days per week and this would translate to 25 days a month or 300 days in a year. Remember, exercise and fitness is a lifetime commitment.
There is a lot of confusion about the type and intensity of exercise that is recommended and when one should stop or avoid exercise. Ideally, it should be a combination of aerobic or endurance (like running. swimming, cycling, etc.) resistance or strength (like weight lifting) and flexibility (like yoga or stretching).
A five to ten minutes warm up session is mandatory at the start. This should be followed by aerobic exercise and finally strength training with two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. A five minutes warm down should be done to wind up the session. It needs to be noted that spot’ reduction does not work, so doing thousands of abdominal crunches to get that six-pack abdomen is useless!
The appropriate intensity of exercise is something that confuses a lot of people because fitness levels and physical capacities are so different. However, the following guidelines are useful:
- Breathing should not be so hard that you cannot speak at all.
- One should feel completely normal one hour post exercise.
- Muscle soreness is fine, provided it does not prevent you from exercising the next day.
Exercise is recommended for healthy individuals as well as people with kidney disease. This includes dialysis patients or post kidney transplant patients. However you must stop exercising if the following occurs:
- Feeling of extreme exhaustion
- Feeling breathless
- Have chest pain
- Feel irregular rapid heartbeats or palpitations.
- Feel nauseous and sick
- Get frequent leg cramps
- Running a temperature
- Have bone or joint problems that get worse with exercise.
- Feel dizzy or light-headed
- Eaten too much in the last two hours
The benefits of fitness and exercise on cardiac function, diabetes. blood pressure, brain function and cancers have been well established. What is not so well-known is the benefit of fitness on kidney health. li you want to protect your kidneys, you need to move from fatness to fitness at the earliest!