Playing Sports and Donating Blood

Q. I’m on a sports team. Can I safely give blood?

A: Yes. You can give blood safely. Just avoid heavy lifting or pushing heavy objects for at least four to five hours AFTER giving blood. These same recommendations go for all blood donors, regardless of whether they play sports.

Q. Can I practice or compete right after giving blood?

A: When you give blood you temporarily lose some fluid which your body replaces within several hours. It’s not a good idea to practice vigorously or compete right after giving blood since you may become dehydrated. Student athletes should wait 12 hours or more to resume strenuous exercise after blood donation, depending on how you feel. So if you are scheduled to compete the day of your blood drive, don’t give blood that day. However, if you must practice after donating and still want to give, take it easy.

Q.  I’ve heard that giving blood regularly could eventually affect my physical strength. Is this true?

A: No. After you donate blood, your plasma (the liquid portion of your blood), red blood cells and platelets are decreased temporarily, but this does not affect your overall strength or ability to perform. This is because your blood contains many, many more blood cells than needed, and the supply of cells remains entirely adequate after you give blood. However, high-performance competitive athletes may notice a marginal decrease in exercise tolerance for about one week after donation. As a precaution, do not donate blood on the same day of competition or strenuous practice. Instead, ask a friend to donate in your place!