Planning and Preparing for Exercise With Sickle Cell
Last updated: August 2021
Exercise is important for improving our well-being as individuals living with sickle cell.
Why is exercise important for warriors?
It improves oxygen flow:
Aerobic exercises like walking can help increase the flow of oxygen. You know the lack of oxygen in our system is one of the triggers of the sickle cell crisis.
Reduces risk of complications:
Regular exercise and movement of the body can prevent complications. For instance, avascular necrosis which is caused by the loss of blood supply to the joint will less likely occur if the joint is consistently stretched and moved.
Improves sleep hygiene:
Different research has shown that exercise helps improve sleep.
Aids joint mobility in avascular necrosis:
I live with avascular necrosis and I know that the hip can sometimes be stiff. Simple hip movement and low-intensity exercises have helped my hip become more flexible. However, it is important to talk to your physiotherapist before trying any exercise.
What types of exercise are there?
I find aerobic exercises mostly work to improve blood flow and help me get oxygen to our bodies. This type of exercise is important for warriors because of the ease of blood flow and its effect on the heart.
Examples of aerobics are running, brisk walking, swimming, and cycling.
These types of exercises are more intense and play a major role in the growth of muscle and bone. Examples are strength exercises like heavy weight lifting and pushups.
You might be wondering which of these exercises are suitable for warriors. Well, a combination of everything is perfect.
But before you do any exercise especially anaerobic, it is important to keep the following tips in mind.
Tips to exercise without worry as a warrior
Talk to a professional
It is always a good idea to talk to a professional, a fitness expert precisely, about your health status before doing new or extreme exercises. Talking to a fitness expert will help you understand what body goals are right for you presently and help you start slowly but well.
Drinking water and staying hydrated
Hydration is very important. When you exercise, you lose water through sweat and you need to replace that water. Drinking enough water before starting an exercise will improve your performance.
Apart from having pain, you can feel dizzy during a workout and weaker when you are dehydrated. So, drinking enough water before, during, and after a workout is highly recommended.
Go at your pace
You are not to compare yourself with someone else. Don't think because a sickle cell warrior is strong enough to do twenty pushups, you too want to do it.
Start from where you are, do what you can, and go at your own pace. You are your competition.
Whether you are feeling tired during a workout or after, take a rest. It is super important to rest. It will help your muscles heal and help you get rejuvenated. So don't take rest for granted.
Remember, you are not in competition with anyone so when you are tired, rest.
Stop when you feel pain or discomfort
You don't need to prove that you are strong or not in pain. You're human and you are allowed to feel pain. So, if you feel pain or discomfort while working out, that means your body is ready to STOP.
Back exercise up with proper nutrition
Exercise is more effective when there's proper nutrition and you know sickle cell warriors need proper nutrition.
Fill your plate with greens and eat plenty of fruits. If you can, get in touch with a nutritionist for a meal plan for you.
It's not how much you do in a day that matters. It is how little you do in a day over a long period that matters. See exercise as a lifestyle because it is a lifestyle so you keep going at it and things will get better.
Do you exercise?
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