One thing I have recently found interest in is exercise, but mixing sickle cell disorder with exercise is quite tough.
Sickle cell complications are unpredictable, this minute you are fine, the next you are just so weak and want to rest. Studies showed that majority of adults living with sickle cell disorder do not engage in any form of physical activities because of chronic anemia (fatigue caused by shortage of red blood cells) and the fear of falling into crisis.
A study conducted by Pediatrist, Hematologist and Oncologist Dr. Robert Liem showed that exercise, despite the risk is important for people living with sickle cell disorder. He also advised doctors, he said, don’t let all your patients with sickle cell anemia off the hook when it comes to exercise. I agree with him to some extent and perhaps if he had advised patients living with sickle cell anemia that they should practice what I will term safe exercise, I would have agreed totally.
Safe exercise for sickle cell warriors
Whenever exercise is mentioned, majority begin to imagine push ups and sit ups.
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Push ups and sit ups are only examples of strength exercises. People into intense strength exercises too stay cautious and it is okay to say they practice safe exercise too.
Here’s what it means to practice safe exercise as someone living with sickle cell disorder.
Talk to a professional
When I asked a doctor although via Twitter, he encouraged it and since I started, I haven’t had any complications except avn. Talk to your doctor and a fitness coach if you have access to one.
Set a fitness goal
My fitness goal is a five-year goal, I want to build muscle in five years. So, set a goal and work towards it but remember when setting your goal consider sickle cell so that you won’t rush yourself. You can set a goal just to be fit or lose weight.
I started exercising a long time ago but I wasn’t consistent then, I started with the beginner’s push-ups (either use the wall or keep your knee on the ground as you do the conventional pushup) and now I can proudly say I can do twelve conventional pushups. However, if you are new to exercise, you should start small. Jogging, beginner’s pushups are good way to start depending on the goal you’ve set.
Drink plenty of water
Water is good for everyone but for people living with sickle cell disorder, it is a life saver. Drink water before, during and after exercise.
Take it slow
No one is chasing you, you are not in a competition with anyone. Don’t rush yourself, take rests when you get tired during exercise. Everyone does.
Avoid exercise when ill
Our body speaks and it is our duty to listen and heed warning signs. Whenever your body says no, who are you to say yes? LOL. Take rests seriously. Exercise for two days, rest the third but make sure in a week you are exercising at least three days at your own pace.
Avoid extreme weather condition
Consider the weather, make sure it is not too hot or too cold as it is injurious to exercise in either weather.
A very important item, no matter the fitness goal you set for yourself is food. Eat healthy food that do not make you feel sick.
Don’t give up
Always remember Consistency over intensity. That’s from Tools of titans which I’m currently reading. It is about consistency not intensity, if you rush, the reward is injuries. And if you don’t give up, eventually you would meet your goal.