Prior to the 1970s, people with hemophilia were encouraged to refrain from any form of exercise or physical activity out of fear they would injure themselves. However, the lack of exercise led to obesity and lower bone density and general overall health problems. Nowadays, people living with hemophilia are encouraged to participate in physical activities to help increase bone density, stay at a healthy body weight and increase overall health.
While some sports are more dangerous for those with hemophilia, there are many non-contact sports and activities that people with the disease can enjoy. Weight-bearing exercises that improve both bone density and muscle strength are particularly encouraged as this will protect the joints, along with other exercises such as running and swimming. Some sports may require additional safety measures such as wearing helmets, or protective knee or elbow pads.
There have been studies that suggest regular exercise actually improves the effectiveness of some hemophilia treatments and makes patients less likely to bleed. Inactivity can lead to problems such as poor health and obesity, and the the extra weight can put pressure on the joints causing bleeding.
Engaging in sports may also help to improve balance and strength, leading to fewer trips and falls. In addition, for younger hemophilia patients, being able to participate in sports and games with their friends helps to improve their self-esteem and make them feel included. Find out more about exercising with hemophilia here.
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