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Feeling so passionately about physical exercise

Tim Demos has severe haemophilia A and has been working full time as a paramedic for the past 5 years.

Tim describes himself as “feeling so passionately” about physical exercise. He explains that paramedics have one of the highest rates of work-related injuries compared to many other jobs and therefore, staying healthy is very important to him regardless of having haemophilia.

Tim explains that “what applies to people without bleeding disorders is doubled in importance for those with [a bleeding disorder]”. Tim emphasises that regular exercise and the influence on mental and social health and wellbeing is very important, explaining that “exercise helps you maintain a happy and healthy state of mind”.

Tim recalls playing basketball for over 10 years and although he “loved every moment of it”, he experienced reoccurring bleeds and left his ankles in a “less than perfect condition”. Tim doesn’t regret playing basketball, but when he finished playing, he needed to find a new form of exercise…. Weightlifting…

Weightlifting has provided huge benefits for Tim’s haemophilia. Tim has noticed an increase in the visibility and size of his veins for treatment and the amount of bleeds he’s experienced have been minor compared to basketball. Tim explains:

“Everything about weight training and resistance exercises is controlled. It’s very specific movements with a defined start and finish point at predetermined weight. As long as you’re listening to your body and not your ego and using a safe amount of weight or resistance the chance of injury or bleeding is very minimal. Putting your joints and muscles under regular controlled strain keeps them strong and functional which plays a major role in injury and bleed prevention and therefore decreases overall factor use. Putting it simply my haemophilia has had virtually no impact on my weights training yet my weights training has significantly improved my haemophilia.”

Although everyone’s bleeding disorder is different and weightlifting may not be for you, Tim explains that it is important to find an exercise what does work for you, as long as you’re you’r doing it safely.

Setbacks, while frustrating, are also not uncommon, and Tim reminds us that “listening to that niggle or early sign of a bleed will save you risking more time off [work, school or study] and [create] further injury”. Tim is no stranger to setbacks and explains that there have been times when he has been recovering from a bleed and had to change his exercise from weightlifting to swimming “certainly not my first preference of exercise but it’s about training smartly and with purpose”.

“Be kind to yourself when you need to be and be flexible. Exercise and haemophilia isn’t an all or nothing approach.”

Tim has seen many people at the gym wanting a quick fix, not knowing that it’s important to build exercise into your schedule and find an exercise that matches your physical ability and bleeding disorder needs. Commitments such as family, social and financial can often get in the way of exercising.

“The best advice I can give here is just find the time and length of exercise that works for you. Some people have that ability to get up at 4am and go to the gym before work I sincerely applaud you because I would rather get a root canal.”

Tim urges everyone to find out what works for you.

“You would be surprised what you can get out of even 10 minutes of exercise at home. Especially when you’re getting into a new sport or exercise you have to be willing to commit and give yourself a chance to get into a routine. It’s always challenging and difficult at first but once you’re in that routine you’ll wonder why you ever found it so hard to begin with.”

While having a bleeding disorder may present you with some challenges, Tim insists that challenges are “meant to be overcome”.

Tim encourages everyone to “work with your healthcare teams to figure out what the best exercises may be for your set of challenges and how to schedule in your medication to best provide coverage and protection against bleeds. Don’t be afraid to venture out of the conventional exercises normally prescribed for those with bleeding disorders.”

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