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Physical Activity


Keeping Physically Active and Safe

Being fit is a way of saying a person eats healthy, gets a lot of physical activity, and maintains a healthy body weight. When you're in shape, your body works well, feels good, and can do all the things you want it to do. Physical activity—whether an organized sport, regular exercises, PE class, or just running around at the playground—is important for everyone—especially for kids and adults with bleeding disorders. Overall, keeping physically active has many benefits for your body and your mind.

For more information, go to Physical Activity.

This section of Next Step will help you and your kids understand the benefits—and limits of physical activity.

Don't Let Your Bleeding Disorder Keep You on the Sidelines

Exercises and even sports are not off limits to people with bleeding disorders. In fact, the right exercises and sports can help keep you strong.

Here are some benefits of exercising and playing sports:

  • Build strong muscles
  • Reduce stress on your joints
  • Stabilize and protect your joints
  • Become more flexible
  • Improve your balance
  • Improve coordination
  • Improve your circulation
  • Keep your veins healthy and accessible
  • Control your weight by burning calories
  • Feel better emotionally
  • Feel good about yourself and your body
  • Get energized
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve posture
  • Reduce heavy menstrual bleeding (called menorrhagia) if you are a female with von Willebrand disease (VWD)
  • Have fun!
Exercise can actually reduce bleeds.

Choose the Right Sport and Exercise for You

The two rules you should remember when choosing a sport or exercise:

  1. Choose one that you like!
  2. Choose one that's safe!

Playing it Safe with Hemophilia

You're probably like most kids — you want to be with your friends and play sports.


Watch this animated video and see how two brothers and their friends, who all have hemophilia, feel about playing sports and how they learn to play it safe.


Share this with your parents. It may help them understand how you feel about playing sports and how you can do it safely. Remember, keeping physically active is important for everyone, particularly those with a bleeding disorder.


This video was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Blood Disorders in collaboration with NHF's HANDI and ICF International.


Choose one that you like! There are lots of great sports to choose from. Not everyone loves baseball or soccer. Maybe your passion is swimming, cross-country skiing, dancing, or yoga. The main point: keep active. Explore different activities through PE class, weekend activities, or with your friends.

Choose one that's safe! You can choose among a wide range of sports and exercises, but safety is important! Some activities are riskier than others. Understanding these risks can help you make good choices. Talk to your parents and Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) team about what sports and exercises are best for you.

Together you can choose a sport based on:

  • How often you will participate.
  • Where you have had bleeds.
  • Joint or muscle problems.

High contact and high collision sports, such as football, rugby, lacrosse, wrestling, and ice hockey, are not recommended for people with bleeding disorders because they can cause serious injuries to the head, neck, and spine.

You and your parents can meet with the school staff, including your PE teacher and coach, about your bleeding disorder and what steps to take if you are injured or have a bleed. Be sure to tell your teachers or coach if you think you might be having a bleed.

For more information on sports and other activities, go to Playing it Safe.

Take Precautions—The 3 Ps

  • Physical therapist. Before beginning a new sport, talk with your physical therapist and health care team about the risk of having a bleed in a target joint.
    • A physical therapist can help you plan a conditioning program to get you in shape for a sport or exercise.
  • Protective gear. This includes: helmets, knee pads, and mouth guards.
    • Protective gear helps prevent dangerous head, mouth, and joint bleeds.
      • Helmets can protect you from head injuries. Bleeding in or around the brain can be life threatening or result in permanent nerve damage.
  • Position. Play a position in a sport or game that's less likely to lead to an injury.
    • For example, outfielder rather than catcher or shortstop in baseball; a point guard rather than a center in basketball.
For more information, go to Identifying Different Types of Bleeds.

Don't Downplay an Injury

Don't play through injuries! You could end up with long-term or permanent joint damage. If you get hurt, take care of yourself right away. Tell your parents, coach, or teacher immediately if you are having a bleed or you think you've injured yourself! Be certain to treat a bleed immediately. Then use the R.I.C.E. plan (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate) and contact your Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC).

Stop playing or exercising if it hurts a muscle or joint. Injuries take time to heal so talk to your HTC team about how long after a bleed you should wait to exercise. You can exercise other parts of your body while the injured joint or muscle is healing.

Screen Time Is Downtime

Sure, watching TV or playing video games is fun. But so is biking, swimming, playing Frisbee, or even walking your dog. Staying physically active can help cut down on the number of bleeds. So, the next time you download a song—get up and dance to it. Like video games? Try a motion-controlled video game to get you moving!

To read about the sports and physical activities of athletes with bleeding disorders, go to Breaking Away and Breaking Through.