When you hear the word sports you probably think basketball, baseball, or football. When you read fitness you may imagine intense daily workouts at a gym. As a person with a bleeding disorder, you may not be able to participate in these activities.
The next time you hear the words sports and fitness, consider that physical activity will strengthen your musculoskeletal system and reduce extra weight through safe sports and exercises. The real benefit: your joints will become more stable and you’ll be less likely to have bleeds and pain.
A Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study showed that being overweight was strongly associated with limited joint range-of-motion. This was true regardless of the severity of the bleeding disorder. However, it’s not just about being overweight. Do you ever get tired just from climbing up a flight of stairs or does that walk down the hall feel like it keeps getting longer and longer?
Just a few of the benefits of being physically fit:
- It increases your energy level.
- It boosts your mood and attitude.
- It helps your body adjust to even routine activities that can cause a bleed and other complications, especially in joints and muscles weakened by lack of movement.
Some considerations when thinking about getting active:
Your current fitness level and goals.
Don’t compare yourself to others. This is about you and not your peers.
How comfortable are you with physical activity? Just like a car, you can’t start at 55 mph. You’ll need to work your way through the gears. Everyone has to start at zero and work up at different rates. You will get there! Do you have some limitations? An honest assessment of your fitness level will help you reach your goals quicker
What do you want to accomplish by being active? Make a list: Is your goal overall health or weight management? A specific event (like a Hemophilia Walk)? Or do you just want to play sports with your friends? Just like in other areas of your life, setting goals (fitness goals in this case) gives you something to work toward; you can create a plan and chart your progress, so you know when you’ve accomplished your goals.
Discuss your sports and fitness ideas with your Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) team before getting started.
We’ve all heard the announcers on infomercials for exercise equipment and exercise videos say, “Speak to your doctor before beginning any exercise program fitness routine.” Heed this very good advice and talk to your treatment team before you start a sport or working out. Most likely you have been meeting with your bleeding disorder treatment team already, so they know you pretty well.
They’ll have your health records, including information about bleeding episodes and other medical conditions, and will find your baseline and track your progress from that point.
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Your HTC team can:
Discuss activities that will help and, more importantly, not hurt your body.
Suggest ways to alter the activities you want to do to minimize the risk of injury and bleeding.
Review your infusion or prophylaxis regimen and help you adjust it, if necessary, to fit your increased activity schedule.
Help you make adjustments if you do get injured or have a bleed.
Advocate for you. They can talk with your teachers, coaches, and even other medical staff to help promote your being physically active and help you avoid risks.
Treating before and after specific activities decreases the odds of a bleed.
While you may be treating it prophylactically (which will make it easier and safer for you to take part in many activities), bleeding due to injury or overuse is still a possibility.
Whether you’re on a regular prophylaxis routine or treat before your activity, discuss with your treatment team when you should treat based on your activity.
Ideally, the activity should take place soon after treatment, when your clotting factor level is at its peak. Depending on the physical activity and any incidents that may have occurred, you may wish to treat afterward.
Don’t play through injuries!
All injuries need adequate time to heal. If you don’t take the time needed to recover, you could end up with long-term or permanent joint and tissue damage.
Use the R.I.C.E. protocol (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate).
Talk with your treatment team about your treatment options and to determine when you can continue certain physical activities.
So you’ve decided to get active, but now what?
For much of your life, you may have been told you can’t do certain activities. That’s because the risk of injury or bleeding depends on the activity. Understanding these risks can help you make your own choices about what physical activities are right for you. Maybe you will choose to not participate in a contact or collision sport like football or hockey because you know the risk of serious injuries to the head, neck, and spine is high—and, of course, a neck brace (or head bleed) would put a serious damper on your social life.
When choosing a sport or exercise routine, it’s important to consider your body type, past bleeding history, and the condition of your joints. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Before you begin an activity, talk with your hematologist and physical therapist. They’ll go over all of this with you.
Your fitness plan doesn’t have to be an over-the-top routine. Having a fit body means you can participate in your daily activities and not injure or exhaust yourself.
Moderate aerobic activity for 30 minutes every day will give you better long-term results than exercising for a longer amount of time only once a week. You may wish to do a simple activity like walking, biking, or Pilates. Make your activity fun, so you’ll keep doing it. Consider how these activities affect different parts of your body.
Are you developing your core muscles (abdominals, lower back, hips, and pelvis)? By developing your core, you build strength, balance, and stability, giving you better control over your body and potentially fewer bleeds. Even if your fitness plan is less strenuous, you should still decide how best to prepare for your routine by proper pre-and post-treatment and conditioning.
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THE BENEFITS OF STEP AEROBICS
You’ve been watching television commercials touting the benefits of step aerobics for decades. It’s true. I checked. According to The American Council on Exercise, step aerobics “revolutionized” the fitness industry in the 1980s. Since then, you’ve seen many really, really enthusiastic, and really, really fit men and women shout at you that you should get off the couch and start exercising. Most of them, it seems, were in the middle of a step aerobics routine while they were shouting at you.
Did you listen? Did you and your friends join a gym so you could participate in the “next big thing.” Maybe you didn’t because you thought it was a fad. It turns out, though, that the ‘fad’ is really, really good for your health. In fact, it’s not a fad.
Benefits of Step Aerobics:
- It’s an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
- It’s a great way to strengthen your leg muscles.
- It’s one of the best weight-loss exercises among gym activities.
- It’s a very enjoyable activity, particularly when music is played.
- It’s a flexible exercise because you can step onto and off a platform that’s anywhere from a few inches off the ground to much more than a foot off the ground if you’re a really good athlete.
The most important thing to know about step aerobics is differentiating high-impact step aerobics from low-impact step aerobics. High-impact step aerobics involves jumping onto and off a raised platform from the floor with both feet. Low-impact step aerobics involves stepping onto and off the raised platform one foot at a time.
Both step aerobic routines require you to continuously exercise for at least several minutes. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy people do continuous, aerobic exercises such as running, bicycling, walking, swimming, and step aerobics 20 to 60 minutes per day three to five days per week.
What kind of step aerobics routine should you do? The American Council on Exercise details its recommendations in its “Step Training Guidelines” report. “Platform height is dependent on the exerciser’s level of aerobic fitness, current skill with step training, and degree of knee flexion when the knee is fully loaded while stepping up,” the report says. “Deconditioned individuals should begin on 4-inch steps, while highly skilled and experienced steppers can use 10-inch steps. The most common height is 8 inches.”
The American Council on Exercise also gives detailed recommendations on proper technique, including your posture, how close you should be to the platform, how to avoid injury, how to use your arms, and even the tempo of the music you are listening to. “Music tempos above 128 beats per minute (bpm) are not recommended,” it advises.
If you participate in a step-aerobics exercise program for a significant amount of time, your legs can become strong, according to “Choosing the Right Exercise,” a report by The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook. The report says that step aerobics has a particularly beneficial impact on your upper leg muscles, including your quadriceps and hamstrings. The report, though, advises that you stop exercising if your muscles become sore. In that case, you should rest for about 48 hours and try again.
Trying to do step aerobics regularly can have a great impact on your weight. High-impact step aerobics is the second-best weight-loss exercise among gym activities, according to Harvard Health Publications. A 155-pound person will burn 744 calories per hour doing step aerobics. That’s more than one-fifth of a pound (you lose one pound when you burn 3,500 calories). Heavier people burn more calories.
Low-impact step aerobics burns 520 calories per hour in 155-pound people. That means you will lose slightly more than one pound in seven hours of exercising. So what are you waiting for?
The bottom line is that perhaps you should listen the next time you see and hear someone on television doing a step aerobics routine while he or she is shouting at you to exercise more and join a gym.
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Benefits of Good Cardiorespiratory Fitness
Cardiorespiratory fitness, when combined with muscle endurance, strength, body composition, and flexibility makes up the five most crucial components of physical health and fitness. Often referred to as aerobic, endurance, or cardio exercise, cardiorespiratory activities, this form of exercise relies upon the ability of your body to provide yourself with enough oxygen to engage in sustained exercise.
When you do regular cardiorespiratory exercise, your lungs, heart, and circulatory system work more effectively to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the muscles of your body.
There is a wide range of activities you can choose from for this exercise, including biking, running, swimming, dancing, and circuit training. Of course, choosing something that you enjoy will motivate you more effectively to stick to your program. So what are the benefits of good cardiorespiratory fitness?
Increased Life Span
Even if you’re already at a healthy weight level for your height and age, cardiorespiratory fitness is an essential part of maintaining your overall health. According to studies conducted within the United States, men who had poor levels of cardio fitness were far more likely to die from numerous causes (twice as likely), than those who were cardio-fit.
Decreased Risk of Diabetes
Researchers in Michigan published a paper regarding the health benefits of regular cardiorespiratory exercise in a journal for the Mayo clinic. The paper confirmed that a lack of aerobic fitness in individuals can prompt negative changes in the metabolic system that in turn may lead to type 2 diabetes. Experts maintain that by engaging in regular cardiorespiratory activity, you can improve your glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing your diabetes risk.
Better Bone Health
By engaging in moderate aerobic activities such as jogging or swimming for up to 150 minutes every week, you may be able to avoid suffering from various bone complications, including hip fractures. According to the centers for disease control and prevention, exercising in such a way helps to maintain the strength of your bones by slowing the rate at which bone density is lost.
Reduced Chance of Metabolic Syndrome
Regular workouts regarding endurance can help prevent metabolic syndrome, according to the CDC. Metabolic syndrome can be recognized as a combination of medical conditions including excess waist fat, high blood pressure, and high levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. The condition can put you at risk of developing diabetes early, because it makes your cells more resistant to insulin. You may also find that heart complications can occur as a side effect of metabolic syndromes, such as strokes or heart disease.
Promotes Weight Loss
According to a number of experts, dancing, running, and swimming are some of the best endurance exercises for helping you to burn more calories and lose excess weight. Usually, a single pound of fat can be equated to around three thousand five hundred calories. Thereby, you can lose a pound a week by cutting five hundred calories out of your diet every day. Endurance exercises and cardiorespiratory fitness can help you burn anywhere up to 872 calories an hour, depending on the intensity of the activity or sport, and your initial body weight.
5 SOCIAL BENEFITS OF EXERCISE THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU
- IT MAKES YOU MORE RELIABLE
It’s not that you want to ditch your friends at the last minute, but if you aren’t taking prime care of your immune system, you’re more likely to get the sniffles. And if you aren’t active, you might lack the energy for those dinner plans you committed to.
According to research published in Europe’s Journal of Psychology (EJoP), when you stick to a fitness schedule, you’re likely to become more committed to plans outside of the gym. Since your pals will be able to depend on you, your friendships — and thus, your social life — will deepen.
- IT HELPS YOU FIND PEOPLE LIKE YOU
We all seek to find our tribe — the people we can depend on wholeheartedly to be there through thick and thin. As another one of the social benefits of exercise, working out regularly can help you find people you actually want to spend time with. You’ll likely meet people at the gym who love to work out and are committed to a healthy lifestyle like you.
Meeting individuals with similar interests allows you to build a new, supportive circle of friends. Another great way to interact with like-minded gym-goers is through a social application like Planet of Triumphs, which can be a source of infinite inspiration and support.
- IT IMPROVES YOUR MEMORY
Fitness isn’t just beneficial for your arms, legs, and core — it actually does wonders for your brain health, too! In fact, a study published in the journal Comprehensive Physiology found that exercise can improve your brain’s functionality, helping you to retain more memories and enhance your cognitive skills.
Ever disappoint a good friend by forgetting his or her birthday? Do you forget names minutes after people introduce themselves to you? While it happens to the best of us (and you’re definitely not alone) exercise can help sharpen your memory so you can stay on top of these small social graces.
- IT MAKES YOU A HAPPIER FRIEND
When you’re feeling down, there’s nothing like having good friends around to cheer you up. But friendships aren’t only about helping each other through the tough times. They are also built over shared laughs and fun experiences.
As the study in the EJoP showed, working out releases endorphins, which have been proven to make people happier. Not only is this a perk for your overall personality, but it’s a social benefit of exercise that reveals itself through the conversations you have, the connections you make, and the friendships you build!
- IT CAN HELP YOU ADJUST TO NEW SURROUNDINGS
Just moved to a new city or town? As a transplant, making new friends can be a little intimidating. That’s why many medical professionals suggest fitness as a way to break the ice. Not only does exercising create an easy way to strike up a conversation with others, but the gym is a recommended setting for healthy social interactions, too. Seeing people achieve their goals can enable you to connect with them on an entirely different level.