I suffer from chronic anaemia which has been identified by my Doctor as the cause of various health problems I am having. One of these is weight gain. The anaemia leaves me feel exhausted all the time and for a few years now I have been getting the energy I need to get through the day by reaching for a sugar hit. This helped keep me alert but it also helped me pile on the pounds.
I am now on a serious regime to get my Iron levels up but I am unsure what to do about exercising. Since I have been chronically anaemic I have found any kind of work out very difficult so much so that I find it hard to breath and get chest pains. I had these checked out at the hospital and they are caused by my severe anemia.
My doctor says to lay off any strenuous exersice until my hemoglobin and stored iron levels come up but I would really like to start doing something to start losing weight as soon as possible. I plan to adopt a Low GI wholefood diet to try and keep my energy levels stable and to do some exercise a few times a week. However I have been told that working out can deplete iron reserves in the body so I don’t what what I am doing to be counter productive.

What kind of exercise do you think I could start to take now to help me lose weight without it affecting my recovery from chronic anemia?
Would things like walking, swimming, yoga and dancing be okay?

Note: I am 31 and about 50lbs over weight.


  • These comments and advice have been so helpful. I was recently diagnosed with severe anemia and feeling just awful that I put on so much weight (about 30 pounds) in the last few years. I feel disgusting and not myself at all. I used to jog a 3 mile trail every other day or so and I barely have the energy to walk a few blocks from my house now, but my mind is telling me to do something! I’m happy to hear the advice about taking it slow then ramping up once I feel better. Thanks again, this is all helpful!

  • same here im 14 and im pretty sure i have this same thing and im getting tested for it soon. I just read an article online and i had all the symptoms. And ive recently been tired easily alot doing simple things, walking up stairs, swimming, skating (I can skate for 2 minutes the i have to rest). I cant even walk up a few steps without gasping for breathe and my chest hurting.
    Anyway, I think that walking would be okay just dont overwork yourself too much. But i dont think it will help too much you should just get lots of iron and dont try to exersice to much and make yourself tired.

  • I was also diagnosed with chronic anaemia about 3 years ago. I’d rely on sugar to give me the energy I needed! I used to have trouble even walking up stairs without stopping to catch my breath and have a rest! I was constantly sick and picking up every inection going. By the time I was diagnosed my levels were so low the docs were considering transfusion! I had the opposite weight issue in that I totally lost my appetite and became underweight so my situation is slightly different but I started taking galfer and changed my diet and after a week or so slowly started to try upping the amount of exercise I did. Starting with parking the car a 5 minute walk from where I had to go and when I no longer felt it was a struggle I parked further away until I stopped driving! I now walk everywhere and go to the gym regularly. My haemoglobin levels are ok now but I’m still having difficulty getting my iron stores up but at least I have more energy and don’t rely on sugar to get me from hour to hour!

  • Try walking. It is natural, low impact and you can pace yourself when you feel fatigued. Gradually add the other forms of exercise you mentioned in that order.

    Here’s to a speedy recovery!

  • I am not a physician, but being a sever anemic myself, I’ve had experience with this. You can definetly exercise, but you want to make sure of two things: #1 that you are getting iron in at least 3 meals a day, and #2 if you are going to exercise, you listen to your body and start off slow.
    I would start off slow by going for mild walks, try 10 minutes and see how you feel. If you dont feel dizzy or lightheaded or chest pains try for another 10 minutes. I would see if you can handle a 20 minute walk a day. After your walk, have some type of vegetable or drink which is a good iron source (i.e. carrot juice, spinach, prunes). Start off with baby steps. Always have iron on hand for after a workout. After time, you should be able to increase the intensity of your workout to something more strenuous like dancing or swimming. Walking is definetly the best way (and safest way) to test out what your body can handle. and just 20 minutes a day can make a difference!

  • Walk! Start with 20 minutes (at first it seems like a long time, but that soon passes). Borrow a dog from a friend if you don’t have one of your own and you can wander with them for ages without noticing.

    Once you’ve got moving add on some stretches which will nicely slot into the Yoga. Now you have some strength exercise (walking) and some flexibility (yoga). What could be better to add on? Swimming!

    Dancing is fine, but spending a few weeks on walking, yoga and swimming first makes it more sensible.

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