Exercise is extremely important for people with hemophilia A because it helps build strong muscles and protects the joints. If you have hemophilia A, see what types of activities are best for you.
Swimming provides excellent strength and cardiovascular benefits, but is also easy on your joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people enjoy water-based exercise more than land-based exercise. They can also exercise longer in the water without experiencing joint or muscle pain.
You can do this activity throughout your life. It has been shown to improve the quality of life and bone health of older adults, especially postmenopausal women.
Walking and hiking
Walking is a terrific form of aerobic activity that can be done anywhere. You can take walks in a local park or head to the gym and use a treadmill.
Hiking is typically done on natural trails. You can hike in groups for a great social experience. All you need is a decent pair of hiking boots. When you’re ready, increase the workout by going on trails with more challenging terrain.
Most dance styles are safe for people with hemophilia A and are good cardiovascular workouts. You can learn everything from waltz to salsa to belly dancing.
If you want to dance for exercise, Zumba is a high-energy dance workout to percussive Latin music that’s often taught in gyms. Look for a Zumba class that is fast-paced enough to increase your heart rate without too much jumping around.
Golf is a low-impact sport and can be a great workout if you choose to walk a course rather than use a golf cart. However, this can be an expensive choice.
Bowling is a low-impact sport that is also competitive. Bowling is also a lifetime sport that lets you make friends and engage in social activity.
You shouldn’t use the heaviest ball to avoid exerting too much strain on your elbows and wrists. You can wear a brace if it becomes a problem.
A stationary bicycle is an excellent option for people with hemophilia A. It gives you a good workout but doesn’t require a lot of balance or coordination. Cycling also doesn’t put too much strain on your joints.
If you prefer to bike outside, make sure you wear a bicycle helmet approved by the Snell Foundation and avoid jumping or biking down steep hills. It’s much safer to ride on well-maintained designated bike trails. But if you choose to ride on the streets, you should first take a class in traffic safety.
Yoga focuses on a series of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. It’s a great way to learn how to slow down, relax, and stay present.
Classes vary widely. Some focus more on flexibility and physical strength, and others on relaxation and breathing. Classes are easy to find at a yoga studio, or you can practice at home with web-based classes. The only equipment you will need right away is a yoga mat. Blocks, bolsters, and straps are often used as props to provide stability in more difficult postures.
You should avoid high-risk poses like headstands, handstands, and arm-balancing poses that could lead to falls. Start with gentle or beginner’s yoga before advancing to a higher level.
Low-impact weight training
Light weight training can be very helpful for people with hemophilia A. The emphasis is on a higher number of repetitions using light weights, instead of heavy weights. You can improve your strength and balance with very little stress on your joints.
Be aware that low-impact weight training differs dramatically from power lifting or heavy weight training. Power lifting focuses on maximum lifting and very heavy weights. Power lifting isn’t recommended for people with a bleeding disorder.
Choosing an activity for a child with hemophilia A
Sports are an important part of the life of school-aged children and adolescents. If your child has hemophilia A, it’s important that you provide a safe environment in which they can grow and develop, but not be overprotective.
Though contact sports are out of the question, there are still plenty of options. Most importantly, encourage your child to choose an activity that they enjoy and that gives them the confidence and freedom that they need to excel in life.
Even hemophilia-safe activities need extra precaution. Before starting any new activity, meet with your hemophilia treatment center staff or your doctor for an evaluation and some tips. Your doctor may recommend prophylactic factor replacement before certain activities to minimize your risk of bleeding. Also, consider the following:
- Warm up and stretch prior to engaging in exercise.
- Wear a helmet if you’re cycling.
- Wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace.
- Know the early signs of a bleed. Delaying treatment could make a minor bleed more severe.
If a bleed occurs, stop exercising immediately and start treatment.
If you’re caring for a child with hemophilia, there are a few additional precautions:
- Children who cycle should wear shin guards and elbow guards in addition to a helmet.
- Meet with staff at your child’s school to outline steps to take in the event of an injury. This includes the physical education teacher, the coach, and the school nurse.
- Keep a supply of factor VIII concentrate at your child’s school, so they can be treated more quickly in case of a bleed.
- Educate your child about the dangers of contact sports, such as football, rugby, and hockey.
You might think exercising and sports should be avoided at all costs for people with hemophilia A, but this is far from the truth. Exercise is extremely beneficial for people with hemophilia because it strengthens their joints and muscles and helps them maintain a healthy body weight.
If you have a bleeding disorder, choose your preferred form of physical activity carefully. Though contact sports and martial arts are too risky, there are plenty of other activities to choose from to keep you physically fit.