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Fitness tips for people who have one kidney

Woman on raised bench lifting two small barbells. (Photo: Flickr/Rance Costa)

Light weights are a good start. (Photo: Flickr/Rance Costa)

Fitness tips for people who have one kidney

August 15, 2012

Q: What type of exercise can I do with one kidney?

A: Initially you need to clear with your physician to make sure you are otherwise fit for exercise. The physician -- knowing your past history and condition -- will set your limits.

Generally, provided that the function of the kidney is good, you should approach exercise as you would if you had two functional kidneys. Going from 0 to 100mph the first day will set you up for injury, but more importantly your kidney alone needs time to adapt, just like all the rest of the body systems. Easing into exercise, even for the healthiest of people, is a strong recommendation.

You need to adjust your diet to not only benefit you as you exercise and provide proper nutrition and appropriate energy, but also as a "forward thought" for your kidney, as it will be doing the work of two. Plenty of fluids throughout the day, complex carbohydrates, avoiding excess salts and sugars. Lean proteins are a great way to round out the diet. Fruits and veggies should be pushed as well; they are very good sources of nutrients.

It's important to make sure you are consuming enough fluids, as a majority of the body is made of water but also requires it for a myriad of physiological processes.

Try this progression:

  • Flexibility (stretching)
  • Some gentle body weight exercises for the probable progression to weight training
  • A cardiovascular component to assist in general physical conditioning, as well as the benefits to heart and cardiovascular system.

As with anything, warming up, doing LESS than you think is "a good workout," and ending early are good ideas to make sure you are not "paying for it" the next day with soreness and other issues that come from that first day back to fitness.

A good walk, followed by some light stretching, is the perfect, simple introduction.

-- Answer by Mike F., exercise physiologist on JustAnswer.

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