An easy way of assisting someone in need is by donating blood; however, blood donors need to follow certain steps or precautions after blood donation for helping their bodies regain its normal strength and endurance. One of these precautions involves not exercising immediately after donating blood. Trying to exercise after donating blood can be dangerous; and can also cause the person to faint.
Blood donors are advised to bed rest for the remaining of the day after donating blood.(1)
When Can You Resume Working Out After Blood Donation?
An individual should avoid strenuous physical activities or exercise after donating blood. It is important to not engage in heavy physical exercise and weight lifting, as advised by the American Red Cross after giving blood.(2) The world health organization (WHO), recommends an individual should prevent taking part in vigorous physical activity or playing sports for 48 hours after donating blood.
Body workouts, heavy weight lifting and exercises related to the arm; for example, tennis, might subject the site of the needle to more pressure resulting in increased likelihood of tenderness, bleeding, bruising in the arm.(3)
Anaerobic as well as aerobic workouts might escalate the body’s oxygen requirements.(4) After directly donating blood, the donor’s body might not able to fulfill these demands.
According to a study in 2016, whole blood donation results in decrease in an individual’s general exercise capacity for the initial two days after giving blood (5, 9).
After donation of blood, it is vital for an individual to slowly get back to their vigorous exercise schedule by starting with easy exercises. You should start by testing out new exercises and observe its results on your body. Also, try to go for longer breaks between your workout sets.
What Are the Common After Effects Experienced After Donating Blood? (9,10,11,12,13)
After donating blood, you may experience one or more of these after effects.
Dehydration: When a person donates blood, there is lots of mineral and fluid taken out of the body and it is extremely important that these fluids are restored to prevent dehydration in the body of the blood donor.
Some of the common symptoms of dehydration include: dizziness; dry mouth and dark urine.(6) Before the blood donation process, the donor is strongly advised by the donation centers to drink extra water to get their body ready for blood donation.(1) After giving blood, the donation center will give the individual water or fresh juice, as they regain their energy and recover. The American Red Cross recommends consuming an extra 16 ounce of water which is equivalent to two cups of water before the blood donation process.(1)
In the days after the blood donation, continuing to consume increased fluids is vital for assisting the body to resupply water and mineral stores and help in avoiding dehydration.
Consuming an excess of 32 oz of fluids the day following blood donation is a good idea.(1) Apart from water, other fluids should be consumed as they are vital in providing the lost minerals and nutrients to the body. We can expand the amount of fluid we consume by drinking:
- Electrolyte drinks low in sugar.
- Soup and broth.
- Water -rich vegetables and fruits, such as cucumbers, melons and greens leafy vegetables.
The donor should absolutely refrain from alcoholic drinks for at least a day after donating blood. You can assist your body in its recovery from blood donation by abstaining from caffeine products. The American Heart Institute (AHA) states that since caffeine is a diuretic, it can result in more loss of fluids from our body.(7)
Drinking fluids throughout the day and being hydrated helps the body replenish the blood storage and assists the body in avoiding the symptoms of dehydration.
Lethargy: Lethargy is experienced by the blood donors when their body is recovering. An individual who exercises daily must not anticipate their body to work at its best for about at least two days after the blood donation.(5) To battle this lethargy, taking adequate rest is important. Taking consistent and extended breaks can help overcome lethargy experienced after donating blood. Exercising less vigorously than your normal workout also helps with the tiredness.
Decreased Iron Levels: Donating blood can result in deprivation of hemoglobin, which is rich in iron present in the blood cells. This causes decreased oxygen supply to the muscles and the rest of the body.
To avoid this after affect of blood donation, it is important to replenish the iron levels after donating blood. It is recommended by the National Institutes of Health that all the blood donors consume foods rich in vitamin C and iron after blood donation, so that their iron levels can get back on track.(8) Some of the iron rich foods are: poultry; lean meat; seafood; beans; tofu; fresh greens; and even iron-fortified cereals.
When your iron levels are at an optimum level, then it also helps with other after effects of blood donation like fatigue.
There are some blood donors who can benefit from taking an iron supplement daily so that they have sufficient iron in their body. The necessity of this will be decided by their doctor.
When Should Athletes Donate Blood?
Athletes or people who perform heavy, rigorous workouts or physical activity daily should ideally donate blood when it is suitable or appropriate for their workout schedule. Athletes can donate blood on their off day or at the start of their break period. This will give their body some time to recover after donating blood.
Even if athletes are donating blood during their lax schedule; it is equally important that they do not jump back immediately to sports or exercise after blood donation and start on their exercise regime gradually and monitor themselves for anything wrong with their body when working out.
If the sports person is feeling extremely dizzy, fatigued then they need to stop working out and lie down or sit and rest until these feelings pass. Never ever should a blood donor try to continue exercising through these symptoms, as this will result in fainting, falls and loss of balance, which can prove to be very dangerous.
If a person is competing or has to engage in heavy exertion, then donating blood is not the best thing to do; as blood donation can hamper the person’s ability to compete and also affect their performance; and they will be unable to get to their highest capacity of exercise for at least a few days after donation of blood.
Blood donation is a very effective method to help someone in need. Healthy people are at no risk during the blood donation process; however, it is the days following blood donation that the donors have to be careful about and follow strict doctor’s instructions and take complete rest and avoid any heavy exertion after blood donation.
It is recommended to rest for 48 hours before resuming any exercise regime; and even then the donor should be on the lookout for the after effects of blood donation and take regular breaks in their schedule.
For complete recovery after blood donation, it is important to follow healthy diet and drink lots of fluids. Even then, the donor may not be able to workout at their full capacity for some days after blood donation.
- Blood Donation: Procedure, Advantages, and Disadvantages
- Donating Blood?: Here is What You Need to Know About Blood Donation