Most people are not too keen on the idea of having the blood that gives them life taken out of their body. For some this has to do with the very idea of exsanguination, while others simply harbor a phobia of needles. Or perhaps seeing your insides on the outside makes you feel faint. And you’re not wrong to feel this way.
Losing blood is not something to be taken lightly, and any time you puncture a vein it could effectively slow you down. While it’s not major surgery or anything, you are still piercing one of the byways that carry blood throughout your body. In addition, you may be losing a significant amount of blood, a fluid that must be replaced if you want to function at peak physical levels. So how long could having blood drawn put you out of commission? Here are a few guidelines to consider before you start to exercise after having blood drawn.
In most cases, having a small amount of blood drawn, say for tests at your annual physical, is not terribly invasive or damaging. In fact, you can generally return to normal tasks within an hour after the procedure has taken place. But if you are engaging in blood donation, by which a pint or more of blood is taken (depending on your size), then you’ll have to give yourself a bit more time. Remember that the average adult only has about ten pints to begin with, so removing one or two is a lot. As a result, you will be advised not to engage in any strenuous activity for about 24 hours following your donation. In truth, most people feel that they can handle their normal exercise within a few hours of giving blood, but if you do this there could be consequences.
For example, heavy lifting could cause your venipuncture site (where the needle went in) to open, leading to further blood loss. The needle used to take blood must be of a fairly large gauge in order to ensure that blood cells move through unobstructed, without being damaged. The result, of course, it a larger opening than would be caused by, say, a flu shot (although that goes into the muscle anyway, not the vein). The point is that you must give this wound adequate time to heal if you don’t want to end up bleeding all over the weight rack at the gym.
In addition, donating blood can leave you tired, dehydrated, and feeling faint. As you may have noticed, the blood bank provides cookies, juice, and water following your donation. The drinks are meant to act as fluid substitutes for your body in the short term as you begin to regenerate blood cells. And the sugar simply gives you a bit of an energy boost. However, intense exercise and profuse sweating can derail any progress your body has made. So you might want to go with a light workout for a day or two following your donation, and make sure to drink plenty of fluids. If you feel faint or the venipuncture begins to bleed, you should stop immediately. Whether your doctors order blood work or you decide to donate, you should be aware that it could limit your activities for anywhere from an hour to a day (or perhaps even a little longer), depending on how much blood is drawn. So keep this in mind when planning your exercise schedule.