If you have anemia, exercise can be an excellent way to increase your energy levels and reduce symptoms such as tiredness and weakness.

Anemia is a common blood disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to your tissues.

Common symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath, which can affect your ability to perform daily activities and reduce your tolerance for physical activity.

Regular exercise can be beneficial for reducing anemia symptoms and improving overall your health, though it’s essential to develop a routine for your specific needs.

Keep reading to learn over a dozen safe and effective ways to exercise with anemia and tips to develop an appropriate fitness plan.

Before starting an exercise program, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable exercises for your needs and any necessary modifications and safety considerations.

Start slow, especially if you’re new to exercise or have had a break. If you have low energy, do shorter sessions and choose gentle, relaxing exercises.

Be mindful of your physical activity levels and avoid overexertion. Conserving your energy can help prevent tiredness and fatigue.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.

Notice how you feel during and after exercise. If you experience symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, stop exercising immediately.

Sample routine

To design an exercise plan, consider your needs, fitness level, and overall health.

Below is a sample workout routine you can modify and adjust to suit your needs. Begin with the easiest exercises at a lower intensity and gradually increase the intensity and duration as you progress.

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Low impact aerobic activities are ideal for building muscular strength and endurance without putting too much pressure on your joints. They also help improve balance, coordination, and heart health.

Low impact cardio exercises include:

Strength training involves using:

Strength training can help improve your:

Strength training is beneficial for anemia as it can increase muscle mass and red blood cell production, boosting hemoglobin levels and oxygen delivery to tissues.

Use dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands to increase resistance. To continue challenging your muscles, gradually increase the weight or resistance over time.

For each exercise, do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.

Strength training exercises include:

Mind-body exercise integrates physical movements and mental focus, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Mind-body exercises include:

  • Tai chi: This gentle exercise combines deep breathing and slow, flowing movements. The moving meditation practice improves balance, flexibility, and strength. Plus, it encourages relaxation and alleviates stress, which may boost your mood.
  • Yoga: This practice combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to improve flexibility, strength, and balance. Gentle styles such as yin and restorative may be especially effective in enhancing relaxation and reducing stress.
  • Pilates: This method focuses on controlled movements and breathing techniques to improve stability, core strength, and body alignment. It also increases flexibility, enhances body awareness, and reduces stress.

A gentle stretching routine can help increase flexibility, mobility, and blood flow, which may alleviate tension, stiffness, and weakness. It can also enhance relaxation and reduce fatigue, stress, and anxiety.

You might consider exercises that stretch the following muscles:

If you have anemia, regular exercise can offer several physical and mental benefits that improve your health, well-being, and quality of life.

A small 2017 study suggests that adding cardio workouts to iron supplementation is more effective than iron supplementation alone for improving anemia symptoms and hemoglobin levels.

One of the most common symptoms of anemia is fatigue, which can make it challenging to stay active. However, exercise increases energy levels by improving oxygen delivery and endorphin production, which reduces feelings of tiredness.

Strength training can improve muscle mass and endurance, allowing you to exercise and perform daily tasks with greater ease. Exercise also enhances heart health by strengthening your heart and improving blood flow.

Additionally, exercise positively affects mental health by reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting confidence.

Is it better to rest or be active if you have anemia?

If you have anemia, healthcare professionals usually recommend moderate physical activity over rest.

However, if you have severe anemia and symptoms such as extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain, you may need to rest until your condition improves.

Can exercise cause anemia?

Exercise does not directly cause anemia, but certain types of exercise can increase your risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, especially if you do not take certain precautions.

Exercise-induced anemia, or sports anemia, often occurs in people with rigorous fitness routines, including powerlifters and endurance athletes.

Iron loss may occur through sweating, gastrointestinal bleeding, and hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells).

Additionally, you may be more at risk of sports anemia if you are female, vegan or vegetarian, or have a history of anemia.

To prevent exercise-induced anemia, eat an iron-rich diet, use appropriate recovery strategies, and monitor your iron levels regularly. You may need to consider iron supplementation.

How do you know if an iron deficiency is affecting your workout?

If an iron deficiency is affecting your workout, you may have symptoms such as fatigue, lower leg cramps, and shortness of breath.

You may also have an increased heart rate during exercise and find it challenging to recover afterward.

Is it safe to exercise or work out if you have anemia?

In general, exercise is safe for mild to moderate anemia if you get the green light from a healthcare professional.

Listen to your body, rest when necessary, and avoid activities that may cause injury or exacerbate your symptoms.

Are there certain types of exercise or movement that you should avoid if you have anemia?

In general, moderate exercise is safe and beneficial if you have anemia as long as you avoid or modify certain sports and movements.

For example, long distance running and high intensity interval training could increase your risk of exhaustion and iron loss.

Avoid activities such as contact sports, heavy weightlifting, and high impact exercises since they may stress your joints and lead to injury.

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help manage anemia symptoms, increase strength, and boost fitness. It can also be an enjoyable way to boost your mood, reduce tension, and improve your well-being.

Choose low or moderate intensity activities to avoid overexertion, complications, and injury. The ideal intensity level depends on your needs, overall health, and factors such as the type, severity, and underlying cause of anemia.

Consult with a healthcare or fitness professional if you want additional guidance in creating a personalized routine for your needs.