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Can You Workout After Giving Blood: Here’s The Truth!

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You should not race or engage in a hard training workout within a couple of days of your donation. You could go for an easy run the following day. Just don’t expect it to be easy. 

Donating blood is a relatively quick, almost painless way to give back to others. Since your body has the amazing ability to regenerate the blood that you donate, you can give every 56 days.

That is unless you are a Power Red Donator. If you can be a Power Red person, you have to wait twice as long to donate again. 

What if you are a very active person? Are you wondering can you work out after giving blood? How will donating blood impact your running? 

Great questions. 

How Does Giving Blood Affect Your Body?

After your donation, your body replenishes and regenerates red blood cells at an alarming rate. The average person has about 10 pints of blood/blood volume in their body.

Since it takes time to replenish the blood you give, this is why there is a mandatory wait period between opportunities to donate.

Short-term impacts of donating include being light-headed, tired, and/or nauseous. This is due to the iron and water you lose during your donation.

To alleviate these side effects, focus on being well hydrated and eating iron-rich foods or take an iron supplement leading up to your donation.

Another possible negative impact of donating blood is that the donor could get low iron, which is more common in women than in men.

Again, eating foods high in iron can help alleviate that concern.

Physical weakness is another issue. This is a reason why your athletic performance could temporarily suffer from donating. 

Many people are surprised to learn that blood donors who regularly donate blood are less likely to suffer a heart attack.

Author Pam Berg

4 Running-Related Side Effects of Giving Blood

Are you wondering what kind of running-related side effects can you expect after donating?

According to well-known running coach Jenny Hadfield, athlete donors can expect the following (temporary) general side effects:

  1. Elevated heart rate
  2. Higher breathing rate
  3. Decreased energy
  4. Heavy feeling in the legs

Combining all of that can translate to slower running paces at a higher perceived level of effort.

Athletes often ask if the research shows a negative link between athletic performance and blood donation?

Unfortunately, yes.

Although research on the subject is limited, and very few of it is running specific, a number of small-scale studies have looked at this relationship.

Studies have found that donating a unit of blood can decrease the athlete’s maximal performance for at least one week after donation in cyclists. 

Some studies show athletes can take up to 14 days to get back to peak physical performance after donating blood. 

Can You Workout Before Giving Blood?

The Red Cross would tell you not to do any vigorous exercise before giving blood. That does not mean you cannot do any physical activity.

You certainly could go for an easy run, go for a moderate spin on your bike or do yoga the morning of your donation. 

The key is not to do anything too taxing and ensure you have eaten well and are adequately hydrated. 

Can You Run After Giving Blood?

According to the American Red Cross, it is recommended to avoid heavy lifting or vigorous exercise the rest of the day you donate blood.

However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), anyone who donates should “avoid playing sports or participating in strenuous activity for 48 hours.” 

This means you should not run directly after giving blood.

Regarding how long you should wait to exercise after giving blood, there are some recommendations.

You should not race or engage in a hard training workout within a couple of days of your donation. You could go for an easy run the following day. Just don’t expect it to be easy. 

What About Back to Back Donations?

One interesting tidbit of information to keep in mind is that even though you may be eligible to donate blood as early as 8 weeks later, some athletes will struggle with that.

While giving blood is a wonderful and selfless thing to do, some athletes, particularly women, find that they need more time between donations. 

If you donate, then give again 8 weeks later, and it takes you a long time to bounce back, you might want to space it closer to 12 weeks between donations. 

7 Tips for Athletes Giving Blood

  1. Off-season: Your off-season is an excellent time to donate because you will be able to keep your runs short and easy while giving your body enough time to recover.
  2. Early in Cycle: Another good option, time-wise, would be to donate early in your training season, before mileage and intensity increase too much.
  3. Rest Day: A complete rest day is good before a donation.
  4. Menstruation: Menstruation may not be the best time to donate for female athletes.
  5. Post Donation Workouts: Follow your donation with a number of short, easy workouts days; avoid strenuous exercise.
  6. Perceived Effort: Train by effort instead of specific paces in the days after your donation. Listen to your body and adapt your workout intensity according to how it’s feeling. This will ultimately help you recover better.
  7. Food and Water: Be sure to eat well and hydrate before and after giving blood.

Should You Donate?

If you meet the general requirements and you want to make a difference, go ahead and look into donating.

Just be certain that you plan to do it in a way that suits your body and your training schedule best because even one pint of blood donated only once a year can save up to three lives. And that’s definitely worth making an effort for.

And once you donate, just remember, the answer to how long after donating can I exercise is not one size fits all. Not only is it okay to listen to your body, but it’s also simply a great idea. 


  1. Scott Douglas, How soon to race after giving blood, Online publication
  2. Jenny Hadfield, 7 Strategies for giving blood while running and racing, Online publication
  3. Susan Lacke, Out There: The Blood Donor, Online publication
  4. Brookhaven National Laboratory Staff, 56 Facts About Blood and Blood Donation, Online publication
  5. American Red Cross Staff, Eligibility criteria, Online publication
  6. A.K. Ziegler et al., Time course for the recovery of physical performance, blood hemoglobin, and ferritin content after blood donation, Academic journal
  7. T.B. Judd et al., Time course for recovery of peak aerobic power after blood donation, Academic journal
  8. R.A. Panebianco et al., Effects of blood donation on exercise performance in competitive cyclists, Academic journal

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