Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Exercise and Anemia


Each woman seems to have a unique normal value for her red blood cells. If she falls below it, her athletic performance may suffer. Your optimal RBC level, however, may be difficult to discover and will require more specific blood tests than those mentioned above.

Some researchers have found that, on average, women participating in aerobic training (swimming, bicycling, running) have lower blood values than nonathletic women. The reason is not a strange athlete's anemia, but a beneficial adaptation to exercise.

With training, the body expands the fluid compartment of its blood volume. This expansion of volume allows more efficient delivery of red blood cells to exercising tissues, but also results in a relative dilution of red blood cells in blood plasma, thus lowering the hemoglobin and hematocrit counts on screening tests.

How can you tell whether you have this pseudo anemia or true anemia? There are dozens of reasons for anemia, and any woman who is told that she is anemic should know the cause and the treatment.

Physicians can tell the difference between the various types of anemia by performing other blood tests to determine the total blood cell count, the size and shape of the red blood cells, the rate of the new red blood cell production (the reticulocyte count), and the amount of iron present. In some cases follow-up blood counts and analysis of the hemoglobin are necessary.

One common cause of anemia in women is the lack of iron in their diet. Women need nearly twice as much iron as men (18 milligrams/day compared with 10 mg/day) because of menstrual blood loss.

Heavy exercise may also increase iron needs by up to another 1 to 2 milligrams day. This may be caused by a combination of factors, including iron loss in sweat, blood loss from the urinary tract or gastrointestinal system and the breakdown of the red blood cells in the circulation from heavy foot striking (foot-strike hemolysis).

How can a woman get her 18 mg of iron a day?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
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Dental Health
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Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

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