Can I Exercise if I Have Anemia?

With a diet rich in iron and a routine plan approved by a medical specialist, it's possible to exercise while suffering from anemia. Discover with us the easiest routines to get you started.
Can I Exercise if I Have Anemia?
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 02 June, 2023

Anemia is a condition caused by a drop in the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin (Hb) concentration. Hb is an iron-containing protein found in red blood cells; its essential task is to transport oxygen from the lungs to all tissues. Therefore, it’s essential to know that you can still exercise if you have anemia, even if gas transport is decreased.

Anemia is usually caused by a lack of iron. Decreased body performance is usually one of its characteristic symptoms. Due to poor muscle oxygenation, the heart is forced to pump faster to make up for the deficit.

If you have some of the common symptoms of the disease (pale skin, frequent headaches, hair loss, sleep disorder, muscle weakness), you may have wondered if you can exercise with anemia. We invite you to read this article to understand which routines you can practice.

Exercises you can do if you have anemia

Depending on the degree of anemia, you may become short of breath and have difficulty performing certain activities. This condition causes several effects that limit physical capacity. Even at rest it’s possible to increase cardiac output.

Before performing any type of routine, we recommend that you see your doctor for a review and approval of the plan. He/she may suggest movements with minimum effort, always starting slowly and taking breaks. Yes, you can exercise if you have anemia, although you need to take into account that it’s a special situation.

Jogging and walking

Start with short distances. It’s even fine to do it from your home, going and returning between two distant points.

After aepeating this a few days, walk the same distance walking faster. Remember the importance of resting so as not to overexert your body. Alternate 2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking.

Running with anemia.
You can go jogging if you have anemia, but don’t exceed a safe distance or the intensity with which you run.


You could try going out on your bike over distances set according to your endurance capacity. To start with, ideally, you shouldn’t exceed 15 minutes of activity, and then increase that time in 5-minute intervals. Don’t forget to take a break.

Also work on the exercise bike, as it works as a simulator; it allows you to carry out the movements without having to go anywhere. Establish short times, between 5 and 10 minutes, prioritizing rest and recovery.


This is a discipline that can exercise your body, mind and spirit in harmony. Through different posture and breathing techniques, you’ll be able to train calmly.

Although there are many types of yoga, you can opt for vinyasa. You’ll do the postures together with inhalations, exhalations, or air retention.


Swimming reduces the harmful effects of stress, helps correct posture, and favors the development of a defined physique. It consists of movements through the water with the main use of your arms and legs.

It’s also a recreational sport that will benefit your aerobic capabilities. That is, it’ll improve your proper breathing.

Man swimming.
Swimming will increase the transport of oxygen to your tissues.

Benefits of a good diet for exercising with anemia

After proving that you can exercise if you have anemia, you must take care of your diet. This is essential to prepare your body for endurance. The diet should be rich in iron, in order to benefit the increase of red blood cells.

Iron-rich foods can be of animal or vegetable origin. Among the meats, liver stands out. Fish and seafood, dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, legumes, and nuts are great too.

Remember that perseverance is essential to achieve your goals, despite how difficult the journey may be. Let exercise become a permanent source of good health.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sanchez J, Rivera A, Noriega J, Morado Z, Andrade M, Cabrera M, Pérez I. Correlación del ejericicio físico, anemia y celularidad hemática: un modelo diagnóstico y epidemiológico. FEMPAC. 1998; 45 (1): 17-29.
  • Bagur C, Serra R. Prescripción de ejercicio físico para la salud. Primera edición. España: Editorial Paidotribo; 2004.
  • Casajús J, Rodríguez G. Ejercicio físico y salud en poblaciones especiales. España: Catalogo general de publicaciones oficiales del Consejo Superior de Deportes; 2011.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.