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Exercising with Sickle Cell

Posted Aug 02 2011 6:08am
Written by Sickle Cell Warrior on 02 August 2011

On the SC Warriors Facebook page (where all the cool discussions happen;), we were recently talking about working out. How do you stay healthy, exercise and prevent a crisis from occuring? Many of us start exercise regimens and end up pushing ourselves too hard, or too fast, and within a couple of weeks, we are in a full blown crisis. I have been on this rollercoaster many times before–work out, fall sick, get better, work out, fall sick…rinse and repeat.


The rush of being able to push yourself to your max is an exhilirating one, and developing muscles that you have never had before oftentimes makes you want to hit the gym harder and longer. But we have to remember one simple thingwe are not like everyone else. Moderation and Temperance need to become your two best friends when you start working out.

Contrary to popular workout beliefs, . When a Sickle Cell Warrior is having painthis means that you are doing too much and you need to slow down, back up, take a break and drink some water. I used to believe that if I pushed past that pain, that I was strengthening my body and building my stamina. I had to learn the hard way that those extra painful reps now, meant that I was going to be paying for it later with a crisis. You have to listen to your body, and pay attention to the warning signs before it gets too bad.

Hydration is another must, and I know that we know this. You can never drink too much water, especially not with sickle cell. So drink before working out, during and after….make water as essential to you as breathing.

It is recommended that we go for low impact exercises like walking, swimming (in a heated pool of course), and yoga. You can get a great cardio workout with yoga, and even lose weight if you do it regularly and properly. Save the high intensity cardio workouts and pylometrics for others, and stick to low-medium intensity exercises. If you pace yourself, you can achieve the body you want, it might take longer than others, but you can still get the 6 pack, and the gorgeous biceps.

Having a good nutritious diet is important as well. Make sure you are getting enough calories to support your metabolism. Eat smaller meals more frequently (every 2-3 hours) to jumpstart your metabolism and burn more calories. Make the right choices; go for fruits, vegetables and  wholesome grains instead of potato chips, soda and candy. Eliminate fats and if possible meats from your diet (your blood vessels will thank you and you will experience less sickling).

It is quite possible to get the body of your dreams even with sickle cell.  Don’t use our condition as an excuse to sit at home and get fat. Get moving, take a walk, eat healthily and hydrate.

Here is to good health. Be well.

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