Keeping Mobile Through Exercise

Strenuous exercise should be avoided by those with Sickle Cell disease, but this does not mean you need to stop being active altogether. 

Mild exercise can help with sleep and improve muscle function, helping maintain mobility.

If you aren’t able to do strenuous exercise it’s very easy to stop exercising at all. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, try and explore what you can.

Warm-up and cool-down – This is extremely important for people with SCD who wish to exercise. Helping your muscles warm up and slowly raising your heart rate is key to keeping blood flowing normally.

Seek relevant advice – Follow advice specific to Sickle Cell as typical low impact exercises may not be appropriate. Swimming, for example, has a low amount of impact on joints but the change in temperature when entering the water may impact blood flow and risk a crisis. It is best to seek advice from a medical professional and discuss what is right for you and your body.

Know your body – The best advice will be advice tailored to you specifically. Listen to your body before, during and after exercise to determine what is the best way to stay mobile for you. Keep yourself hydrated and never do more than you feel comfortable with.

Focus on mobility – Explore exercises that will help you keep muscle function and maintain joint flexibility. Keeping mobile will have long term benefits and some exercises can be done while seated. Exercise doesn’t have to mean running or sweating away in a gym, it can be whatever suits you and your abilities.

Avoid comparison – Don’t feel you have to meet anyone else’s standards for what qualifies as a workout. Everyone’s ability and fitness levels are different, so avoid comparing your own exercise journey to that of others. Your own capacity for exercise is likely to vary too, so try to avoid comparing where you were yesterday to where you are today.

Exercise can be a great way to get outside and look after your physical health. It is important for you to monitor and understand what constitutes a good amount of exercise for you. Start slow and gentle and explore your abilities at your own pace.

If you are currently unable to exercise, do not feel obligated to try. You know your body better than anyone else and your experience is unique to you.

Suggested reading