Can you exercise with anemia?


Anemia, also known as low iron or anemia, can take many forms and have many causes. Your red blood cells transport oxygen-giving oxygen through the iron molecule. Our bodies will die if there are no iron-carrying red cells in our blood stream. Iron deficiency anemia can occur quickly (e.g., rapid blood loss) or slowly (e.g., a loss in the bladder or gastrointestinal tract).

Anemia can also occur if the body doesn’t make enough red blood cells due to a lack of vitamin B12 and dietary iron, or if there are chronic problems with bone marrow function. This is where red blood cell production takes place. Due to increased muscle use, exercise can sometimes increase our body’s iron and vitamin B12 requirements. Depending on the severity and speed of anemia, some types can cause more health problems than others.

Symptoms of anemia

  • Feeling tired, or lacking energy
  • Exercise can increase your heart rate.
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Insufficient endurance and stamina
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Leg cramps
  • Poor concentration/insomnia

Exercising with anemia

Anemia is more common in women who have had heavy periods or are pregnant. Anemia is also more common in female athletes who do intense exercise regularly. Anemic women can be helped by aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming and biking.

Aerobic exercise can improve red blood cell delivery to muscle tissue. However, it also reduces hemoglobin levels due to the diluting of red blood cells within plasma. It is important to choose exercises that aren’t too draining and still offer anaerobic and aerobic benefits for those with anemia. It is important to consult your doctor if you have anemia and whether you can exercise safely.

Your body needs extra oxygen to function properly when you exercise. Anemia can lead to lactic acidosis, which is when lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream quicker than it can be eliminated. You may feel tired quickly, lethargic, and have a decreased endurance. You may also experience a longer recovery time and more stiffness in your muscles than you might otherwise expect.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. Members can take advantage of one of the best gym in Tampa, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!

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