Physical fitness was always a big deal to Lloyd Cooper while growing up in Miami’s tough Overtown neighborhood. Being in shape during his school years helped him to play football, baseball, basketball and soccer, and run track. Later, he stayed fit by exercising and lifting weights.
But fitness became an even higher priority for the 44-year-old North Miami resident five years ago, after his high blood pressure resulted in kidney failure, which left him dependent on regular dialysis treatments.
“Eating right and exercising is my life now. It helps me to avoid fatigue and keeps me healthy as a dialysis patient,” says Lloyd, a soft-spoken man who runs up to 10 miles a day, bench presses 200 pounds and works part-time at a restaurant, car-wash and construction jobs.
Lloyd’s dedication to fitness caught my attention when he became a patient at Fresenius Medical Care Miami, the dialysis facility where I’m the clinical manager. In a community where many patients can’t afford to join a gym and few manage to exercise regularly, he stands out by taking responsibility for his own health. That’s why I nominated him as a Fresenius Medical Care “Champion in Motion,” an award that recognizes dialysis patients committed to regular physical activity. Lloyd sets a positive example for our other patients, and I was pleased when he was chosen as one of 20 nationwide winners (see: http://www.ultracare-dialysis.com/HealthyLifestyles/GetMoving/ ChampionsInMotion.aspx)
Besides the obvious health benefits, exercise allows Lloyd to spend more time with his children. Four to five times a week, he works out with his 15-year-old son Andrew. Sometimes his daughter Lloynisha, 18, joins them. Their ambitious training routine includes a five- to 10-mile run, weight lifting, push-ups, pull-ups and more. Lloyd used to be able to outrun Andrew, but now, he proudly admits, his son usually wins.
He tries to eat a variety of foods in moderation, stays in close touch with his dialysis care team and generally follows their advice on maintaining a healthy diet and appropriate fluid levels. Since starting dialysis, he has never been hospitalized.
Lloyd credits exercise, as well as his Christian faith, for allowing him to live a healthy life on dialysis. “You need to help the dialysis machine help you,” he says. “And exercise makes everything work better.”
Christian Lanser is the clinical manager at Fresenius Medical Care Miami in Florida.