Exercise recommendations for people with hemophilia have come a long way since the 1970’s. Exercise was strictly prohibited due to a fear of recurring bleeds which could increase the risk of side effects such as joint degradation, postural problems and muscle imbalances. We now know that physical activity is a vital component to the life of an individual with hemophilia and if properly performed, is more beneficial than risky. Exercise poses the same health benefits to the person with hemophilia as the rest of the population, which include decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. Additionally, an individual with hemophilia may experience a decrease in pain, joint damage, and functional impairment as well as a decrease in bleeds with participation in regular physical activity. Exercise can also improve muscle strength around affected joints, which may increase joint stability and decrease the risk of injury. Therefore, it is now a matter of finding the proper types of activities for each individual to reduce risk of injury or bleeds and ensure optimal health, which includes overall well-being as well as the management of hemophilia.
With proper treatment, people with some forms of hemophilia can take part in many activities. Individuals with a more severe form of the disorder should generally avoid high-impact and contact sports such as football, hockey, and wrestling. Administering clotting factors prior to exercise or a sporting event may help to prevent bleeds during activity. It is extremely important to discuss safe physical activity options prior to participation with a doctor or physical therapist.