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Can I exercise if I have anemia?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

We often refer to anemia when it is not a single disease; instead, they are different that, caused by other factors, lead to common symptoms and consequences. When we talk about anemia, we refer to a lack of iron, either because we have insufficient intake or for any other physical reason. Among the symptoms of anemia, which we will see in detail later, we find a decline in physical performance.

This is a consequence of the lack of hemoglobin and erythrocytes, those responsible for carrying blood to the muscles, which causes little muscle oxygenation. The result is that the heart must pump faster and faster to meet the total oxygen demand.

So, are anemia and sports incompatible? Do you suffer from anemia and have doubts about whether you can practice sports or not? In the following FastlyHealarticle, we will talk to you about this condition, explaining if I can exercise if I have anemia.

Symptoms of anemic people doing physical exercise

Anemia is a condition that can be camouflaged for years and go invisible without the person being aware that they suffer from it. This is likely in cases where the lack of iron is mild. However, when anemia is accentuated, easily detectable symptoms do appear. Among the most common symptoms of anemia, we find:

  • Fatigue
  • Lower physical performance
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Muscular weakness
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lack of appetite
  • Emotional irritability
  • Feeling cold
  • Palpitations
  • Paler skin

If we also add physical exercise, an activity through which the body’s need for oxygen increases, more severe symptoms may appear. The fact is that with anemia, our Blood does not have enough capacity to supply the muscles with oxygen, which means that the heart must work more, pumping more Blood. Consequently, we observe a decrease in the physical performance of the person, and if we continue to demand greater overexertion on the heart, it can end in heart failure.

Can I exercise if I have anemia?

We have already explained the consequences of pushing your body to the limit. You must understand that these consequences would be the same as those suffered by someone who does not have anemia and strains his own body too much. You have certain limitations regarding the practice of sport, but this does not mean that you should not practice it or that you have to abstain; quite the opposite. So the answer to the question of whether I can exercise if I have anemia is yes. Even those who suffer from sickle cell anemia or thalassemia, which may be impaired, can and should do specific aerobic exercises at a low level to improve their endurance and feel less tired.

Some of the recommended exercises in case of anemia are:

  • Do swimming
  • To walk
  • Go biking or spinning
  • Light jog
  • Yoga

As we have already explained, the intensity should be light; the important thing is not that but to keep our body active. The ideal would be to allocate between 30 and 40 minutes three times a week to practice any of these exercises to gain strength in the muscles, improve circulation and increase our energy.

In another vein, it is essential to stay constantly hydrated, so it is necessary always to have a bottle of water from which to drink regularly. Beyond what we have explained here if you are a frail person, it is always advisable to visit the doctor to explain to what extent you can exercise.

Anemia in female runners

Women who run or play sports at a certain level meet many factors for anemia, so it is not surprising that many female athletes suffer from low iron levels. The high incidence of anemia among women who play sports occurs mainly for the following reasons:

  • Menstruation: the first cause of anemia is bleeding and blood loss. If we consider that women suffer blood loss every month, it is not surprising that it is one of the main risk groups.
  • Sweating: when we sweat, our body not only loses water but also gets rid of electrolytes, among which iron stands out, which can lower our levels of this mineral.
  • Food: many people who practice sports as a mainstay in their lifestyle also take care of their diet every day, avoid consuming fats or animal products, and even opt for vegetarian diets. Given that much of the iron that we usually consume comes from red meat, if we do not have a sufficiently balanced diet, being aware of the possible nutritional deficiencies that we may have, it is easy to fall into anemia.

As you can see, the causes of anemia in female athletes are prevalent factors. That is why we must pay special attention to all those aspects that we can change, for example, watching to replace the electrolytes that we lose during exercise or consuming food to combat anemia. Next, we will talk about how your diet should be to overcome this condition.

Diet to avoid anemia

Throughout the article, we have explained that diet is an essential aspect of raising iron levels. However, first of all, we must go to the doctor to find out what the origin of our problem is, if it is due to deficiencies in our diet, it is due to poor absorption, or we suffer from a blood disorder.

If it is about food or, even though this is not the problem, we want to improve iron levels; we must choose a diet rich in this mineral. To achieve this, you should know that there are two types of iron, depending on their origin :

Of animal origin

  • Red meat
  • White meats
  • Liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Blood, for example, blood sausage

Of vegetable origin

  • Legumes like lentils or chickpeas
  • Nuts and dried fruits
  • Green leafy vegetables

But just as it is essential to consume products rich in iron, it is also vital to consume them together with other types of foods that provide us with nutrients that favor their absorption. These are vitamins C, E, B6, and B12 or folic acid.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Can I exercise if I have anemia? We recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart, and circulation.

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