Tough physical training can cause anemia in young men

 
By Tom Nordlie • Published: December 22nd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Young men have their problems, but anemia usually isn’t one of them.

This condition, which involves a lack of red blood cells, usually strikes women, children and people with certain serious health issues.

Its consequences include fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath.

But one type of anemia often does affect young men. Known as sports anemia, it results from intense physical activity, though scientists aren’t sure why.

A recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests sports anemia can be very common, under certain circumstances.

In the study, researchers collected blood samples from about one-hundred-fifty recruits to an elite Israeli military unit.

All the recruits were eighteen-year-old males.

Blood samples drawn before military training began indicated that eighteen percent were anemic, and fifteen percent had iron deficiencies.

Those numbers might seem high, but the researchers noted that many of the men had tried to whip themselves into shape with their own exercise routines before being recruited.

Six months into the program, a second blood sampling showed half the group was anemic and about thirty percent was iron deficient.

Interestingly, the percentage of recruits with severe anemia didn’t change during those six months… it was just over one percent.

The scientists didn’t investigate possible impact of anemia on the recruits’ health or performance.

So what does this study mean to the casual athlete?

It’s a reminder that tough workouts can have unforeseen effects.

And if you’re tired all the time, discuss the situation with your doctor.

Because nobody’s invincible… even if they’re young and healthy enough to think otherwise.