Exercise helps to keep your body fit and healthy by keeping blood pressure low, maintaining a healthy weight and preventing heart disease and osteoporosis. Keeping active is very important for transplant recipients because anti-rejection drugs mean you are at higher risk of complications such as high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Joining a sports club or an exercise class can also be a great way to meet new people who can motivate you to keep exercising regularly. Exercise can also help to reduce anxiety and improve your mood and self-esteem.
When can I start exercising?
You should only begin to exercise when advised to do so by your transplant team. Generally, once you have recovered from your operation you will be able to gradually increase your physical activity levels and begin enjoying sports.
What exercise should I be doing?
It is important to start exercising slowly and set realistic goals for fitness. Increase the amount of exercise that you do gradually,and try not to let yourself get too tired. There shouldn’t be any limit to what you could achieve; liver transplant recipient Chris Klug became the first transplant Olympic medallist when he won the bronze medal in snowboarding at the 2002 winter Olympics.
Aim to do at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week; this means your heart rate and breathing rates are increased and you might start to sweat, but you are still able to hold a conversation. To set yourself goals and monitor your progress use the free transplant360 web app.
Your transplant team will advise you on what types of exercise are best for you. You should be able to take part in most types of sports. However, if you want to take part in sports that involve physical contact or direct hits (such as martial arts or rugby) you should discuss this with your transplant team first.
Remember to drink fluid while exercising, to replace water lost through sweating.
If you experience dizziness, unusual shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat during or after exercise, stop exercising and notify your transplant team straight away. Any difficulties you experience with exercise or any concerns you have should be discussed with your transplant team.