The most common risk is injury to the musculoskeletal system, ranging from minor muscle strain to tissue or bone or joint trauma.  The most serious risk of exercise is inducement of a cardiac event.

Cardiac Risk:

People with known or suspected heart disease are most at risk to suffer a cardiac event during exercise.  Individuals with multiple cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol) may also be at higher risk for exercise-induced cardiac events.  People who are lead less active lifestyles are also at a much higher risk of suffering from a cardiac event while exercising.  However, regular exercise actually reduces risk of an exercise-induced cardiac event.  It is always prudent to consult your healthcare professional before starting a program of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise, or before increasing the exertion level of exercise.

Incorporating more physical activity into your daily life should not require permission of your healthcare professional.  Low-level walking and light calisthenics, likewise, presents minimal risk and should be encouraged by your healthcare professional.  However, prior to increasing to a program of higher exertion (i.e. moving to a moderate level program or moving to or starting a vigorous program) it is recommended that you consult your healthcare professional.

Cardiac risk can be minimized by:

  • Managing cardiac risk factors by taking blood pressure medications, following prudent diet recommendations, adopting a healthy lifestyle. (no smoking, stress management etc.)

  • Addressing any other medical issues promptly.

  • Starting exercise slowly and progressing gradually.

  • Monitoring your responses to increased levels of activity.

  • Being aware of and responding to symptoms that may indicate inappropriate cardiac responses to exercise. (see section below)

Orthopaedic/Muscular-Skeletal Risks:

Injury to muscle, bones or joints is the most common problem associated with exercise.  Although there have been no studies in transplant recipients, it is possible that previous disease (i.e. kidney disease) and some immunosuppression medications may affect bones such that there could be an increased risk of orthopaedic/musculoskeletal injury with exercise.  If you experience joint (hip/knee) discomfort associated with exercise, it is recommended that you consult a professional physical therapist to evaluate the discomfort and appropriate treatment.  The type of exercises recommended may need to be modified (i.e. non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling or swimming instead of weight bearing activity such as walking/jogging).

Musculoskeletal injury risk during exercise can be minimized by:

  • Avoiding high impact activities. (jumping, jogging, etc.)(at least until adequate muscle strength is attained)

  • Starting exercise slowly and progressing gradually.

  • Starting exercise sessions of short duration for poorly conditioned individuals.

  • Developing adequate strength and flexibility.

  • Assuring adequate warm-up and cool-down times into your exercise sessions.

  • Assuring use of appropriate footwear.

  • Monitoring responses to increasing levels of activity.

Precautions due to immunosuppressives:

  • Wear sunscreen, your skin will be more sensitive to the elements.

  • Clean all gym equipment with disinfectant wipes.

  • Speak to a health care team regarding the use of public swimming pools.

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