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FAQs - Staying Active with Haemophilia

Keeping active is essential for a healthy lifestyle for everyone, with or without a bleeding disorder. For people living with haemophilia however, there are extra things to consider when staying active. These FAQs highlight why being active is so important, in particular for joint health, whilst also providing useful information to support those who wish to start a new activity.

Please note. while exercise can help to reduce the risk of bleeds,1,2 it can also cause bleeds if the appropriate steps aren’t taken. Speak to your healthcare professional, specialist team or physiotherapist for further advice before undertaking any physical activity.

Download our Active Life fitness support guide for free here.

In our guide you’ll find pages where you can set your goals and track your progress. Why not share them with the rest of the community and inspire others to be more active and stay mobile? You can upload photos, videos or simply share your story here!

Physical exercise and staying active brings many general health benefits. It improves your fitness, boosts your self-esteem and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.1

Regular physiotherapy, physical activity and exercise can be particularly beneficial for patients with haemophilia because it increases muscle strength and improves joint stability which can reduce your risk of injury, bleeds and joint damage.2,3

The joints in your body, like your knees, hips and ankles, are supported by different types of muscles. Reduced strength in these muscles can increase the risk of frequent joint bleeds, which can lead to chronic swelling and pain.3 This can result in a cycle of deterioration that continues with every bleed:

Cycle diagram

Being active and exercise can protect your joints from deterioration by strengthening those muscles, improving your coordination and increasing your flexibility.3 It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which minimises the stress on your joints. Together, this can reduce the frequency and severity of joint bleeds.3

It is important to approach exercise and physical activity properly so that you gain the most from it.2 Before you start, there are a few factors to consider. What are your goals? What are your needs? These could be physical or emotional, or both.

Examples of the types of questions you might want to ask yourself include:

  • What do I want to achieve from exercise?
  • What is my current physical ability?
  • What are my exercise and lifestyle goals?

Once you have given your needs and goals some thought, have a discussion with your physiotherapist, consult or nurse. They can use this information to help you develop an exercise plan that is appropriate for you.2

Together, you can:

  • Assess any potential risks associated with different types of sports and exercise routines
  • Consider strategies to help you manage those risks
  • Create a plan that will help you achieve your goals both physically and mentally

You should choose an activity based on your interests, goals and level of ability. Most sports are fine to participate in, however as someone with haemophilia, you may need to consider avoiding certain high contact sports that may increase your risk of injury,2,4 such as football or rugby. Instead, you could participate in lower intensity activities, such as 5-a-side football or touch rugby, which will still give you a good workout and can be just as fun and competitive (if that’s what you look for in a sport).2,4

With the help of your physiotherapist, you can choose the activities that are right for you.2,4

An exercise routine should incorporate activities that help to maintain and enhance your endurance and cardiovascular fitness, as well as your coordination, muscle strength, flexibility and balance.2

It is beneficial to exercise for approximately 30 minutes at regular intervals throughout the week.2 However, your physiotherapist will be able to advise what would be most suitable for you.

Take it slow! Don’t do too much too soon. Overworking yourself can result in injury and may increase your risk of bleeds. Ease into your exercise routine and build up as the weeks progress.

Muscle and joint aches during or after exercise or physical activity can be normal. However, it is important to stop what you are doing at any time if you experience any pain.

If you suspect that you are bleeding during exercise, then contact your care team. Do not push yourself to finish the workout or activity.

When starting exercise, it can be tempting to jump straight into the activity without warming up. However, not preparing your body properly can increase your risk of injury.2

Instead of starting at 100%, ease into your workout with a warm up routine that incorporates gentle exercise and different stretches to help you improve your flexibility and prepare your body for exertion.2

Cooling down after exercise is also important. It helps your muscles recover and prevents them from getting stiff. Starting and ending your activity in this way will reduce the likelihood of developing an injury that could slow down your progress.2

However, if you see a physiotherapist regularly, they will be able to advise you what would be most suitable for you!

When planning an exercise routine, it is preferable to time your infusions accordingly. Try to plan to do your more active exercises when your factor levels are high to maximise your protection.2 Your haemophilia team will help you coordinate your infusion and exercise schedules in a way that is right for you.

There are a multitude of factors that will dictate when you can restart physical activity, such as the severity of the injury or bleed. Your physiotherapist and care team will be able to evaluate this and guide you through any rehabilitation that might be needed. All activities should be reintroduced gradually following a joint bleed or injury.4

Regular follow-ups with your physiotherapist and the rest of your care team are important.2 These appointments allow those managing your care to assess how both your joints and body as a whole are responding to physical exercise and whether any changes to your routine need to be made.2

1. Wittmeier K and Mulder K. Haemophilia 2007;13(2):31-37. 2.

2. Negrier C, et al. Haemophilia 2013;19:487-498.

3. Tiktinsky R, et al. Haemophilia 2002;8:22-27.

4. World Federation of Hemophilia. Guidelines for the management of haemophilia.  2nd edition. 2012.

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FAQs - Staying Active with Haemophilia

Keeping active is essential for a healthy lifestyle for everyone, with or without a bleeding disorder. For people living with haemophilia however, there are extra things to consider when staying active. These FAQs highlight why being active is so important, in particular for joint health, whilst also providing useful information to support those who wish to start a new activity.

Please note. while exercise can help to reduce the risk of bleeds,1,2 it can also cause bleeds if the appropriate steps aren’t taken. Speak to your healthcare professional, specialist team or physiotherapist for further advice before undertaking any physical activity.

Download our Active Life fitness support guide for free here.

In our guide you’ll find pages where you can set your goals and track your progress. Why not share them with the rest of the community and inspire others to be more active and stay mobile? You can upload photos, videos or simply share your story here!

Physical exercise and staying active brings many general health benefits. It improves your fitness, boosts your self-esteem and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.1

Regular physiotherapy, physical activity and exercise can be particularly beneficial for patients with haemophilia because it increases muscle strength and improves joint stability which can reduce your risk of injury, bleeds and joint damage.2,3

The joints in your body, like your knees, hips and ankles, are supported by different types of muscles. Reduced strength in these muscles can increase the risk of frequent joint bleeds, which can lead to chronic swelling and pain.3 This can result in a cycle of deterioration that continues with every bleed:

Cycle diagram

Being active and exercise can protect your joints from deterioration by strengthening those muscles, improving your coordination and increasing your flexibility.3 It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which minimises the stress on your joints. Together, this can reduce the frequency and severity of joint bleeds.3

It is important to approach exercise and physical activity properly so that you gain the most from it.2 Before you start, there are a few factors to consider. What are your goals? What are your needs? These could be physical or emotional, or both.

Examples of the types of questions you might want to ask yourself include:

  • What do I want to achieve from exercise?
  • What is my current physical ability?
  • What are my exercise and lifestyle goals?

Once you have given your needs and goals some thought, have a discussion with your physiotherapist, consult or nurse. They can use this information to help you develop an exercise plan that is appropriate for you.2

Together, you can:

  • Assess any potential risks associated with different types of sports and exercise routines
  • Consider strategies to help you manage those risks
  • Create a plan that will help you achieve your goals both physically and mentally

You should choose an activity based on your interests, goals and level of ability. Most sports are fine to participate in, however as someone with haemophilia, you may need to consider avoiding certain high contact sports that may increase your risk of injury,2,4 such as football or rugby. Instead, you could participate in lower intensity activities, such as 5-a-side football or touch rugby, which will still give you a good workout and can be just as fun and competitive (if that’s what you look for in a sport).2,4

With the help of your physiotherapist, you can choose the activities that are right for you.2,4

An exercise routine should incorporate activities that help to maintain and enhance your endurance and cardiovascular fitness, as well as your coordination, muscle strength, flexibility and balance.2

It is beneficial to exercise for approximately 30 minutes at regular intervals throughout the week.2 However, your physiotherapist will be able to advise what would be most suitable for you.

Take it slow! Don’t do too much too soon. Overworking yourself can result in injury and may increase your risk of bleeds. Ease into your exercise routine and build up as the weeks progress.

Muscle and joint aches during or after exercise or physical activity can be normal. However, it is important to stop what you are doing at any time if you experience any pain.

If you suspect that you are bleeding during exercise, then contact your care team. Do not push yourself to finish the workout or activity.

When starting exercise, it can be tempting to jump straight into the activity without warming up. However, not preparing your body properly can increase your risk of injury.2

Instead of starting at 100%, ease into your workout with a warm up routine that incorporates gentle exercise and different stretches to help you improve your flexibility and prepare your body for exertion.2

Cooling down after exercise is also important. It helps your muscles recover and prevents them from getting stiff. Starting and ending your activity in this way will reduce the likelihood of developing an injury that could slow down your progress.2

However, if you see a physiotherapist regularly, they will be able to advise you what would be most suitable for you!

When planning an exercise routine, it is preferable to time your infusions accordingly. Try to plan to do your more active exercises when your factor levels are high to maximise your protection.2 Your haemophilia team will help you coordinate your infusion and exercise schedules in a way that is right for you.

There are a multitude of factors that will dictate when you can restart physical activity, such as the severity of the injury or bleed. Your physiotherapist and care team will be able to evaluate this and guide you through any rehabilitation that might be needed. All activities should be reintroduced gradually following a joint bleed or injury.4

Regular follow-ups with your physiotherapist and the rest of your care team are important.2 These appointments allow those managing your care to assess how both your joints and body as a whole are responding to physical exercise and whether any changes to your routine need to be made.2

1. Wittmeier K and Mulder K. Haemophilia 2007;13(2):31-37. 2.

2. Negrier C, et al. Haemophilia 2013;19:487-498.

3. Tiktinsky R, et al. Haemophilia 2002;8:22-27.

4. World Federation of Hemophilia. Guidelines for the management of haemophilia.  2nd edition. 2012.

Did you find these resources useful?

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