Exercise can help you maintain your body weight, lower your blood pressure, raise your good cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart problems and premature death. How much do you need? The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.
However, for those in the bleeding disorders community, exercise comes with health concerns. Contact sports and high-intensity activities pose a high risk for bleeding, making it harder to balance staying active with staying healthy. But there are ways to fit low-risk, health-boosting exercise into your weekly schedule—even without going to the gym. And although cutting down on physical activity may seem like the way to avoid injury, regular exercise can actually help prevent bleeds and joint damage.
Consider these tips to find time to fit 150 minutes of exercise into your weekly schedule while still taking the necessary precautions. Remember to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
Exercise Throughout the Week
Bike to Work
Exercise may seem daunting when you have a long day of work and a commute ahead of you. But if you live close enough, you can make your commute and your exercise one and the same by bicycling to work instead of driving or taking public transportation.
Walk Whenever You Can
Think of opportunities during the week when you could walk instead of drive to build exercise into your natural routine. Need to make a quick visit to a nearby store? Visiting a friend a mile away? Turn these tasks into opportunities for physical activity by walking to your destination, even if it’s just part of the way. While you’re at it, opt for stairs instead of elevators to keep yourself moving. Thinking about exercise in a new way can also help you move more.
Try Isometric Exercises
In addition to everyday exercise such as walking, climbing stairs and biking, there are several low-risk exercises that people with bleeding disorders can take advantage of, including isometric exercises.
These exercises involve contracting a particular muscle or group of muscles and are designed for maintaining—not gaining—strength. Best of all, isometric exercises don’t require movement at the joints, making them ideal for those with bleeding disorders.
Just as isometric exercises let you work out without moving the joints, swimming lets you work out without putting any pressure on the joints, making it an effective activity for people with hemophilia.
How to Stay Healthy
Prepare Your Body for Physical Activity
It’s important for everyone to warm up before diving into a workout. Stretching beforehand is especially important for those with bleeding disorders, as tight muscles can more easily be pulled or torn and then bleed.
Avoid High-Risk Activities
High-intensity exercises and contact sports pose a higher threat of injury for people with bleeding disorders. Avoid activities such as boxing, rugby, football, karate, wrestling and hockey. The National Hemophilia Foundation’s Playing It Safe brochure offers a breakdown of activities and their risk levels. Also consider taking the “work” out of working out.
Start with Body-Weight Training
If you’re looking to build strength, start by using your own body weight as resistance instead of working immediately with weights. People with hemophilia would benefit from this tactic, as lifting weights may be difficult for those who have arthropathy or are recovering from a bleed.