skip to content


Anemia is the result of the reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Medical attention may be needed if the person with anemia displays symptoms of jaundice, pain, aching bones, swollen joints, fatigue and labored breathing.
  • The length of aquatic sessions need to be monitored to avoid fatigue.
  • The aquatics specialist should watch for bluish coloration around the mouth and on fingernail beds.  This is often a sign of reduced oxygenation of the tissues.
  • Swim only in a heated pool or in warm water.  Warm water increases  the circulation of the blood and oxygen to muscle and other tissues.
  • Swimming in cold water is not advised as cold water increases the demand for oxygen as the body tries to maintain homeostasis.
  • Range of motion and stretching exercises in the water encourage relaxation.
  • Water walking,  jogging in the water, and aqua aerobics will increase aerobic capacity. The individual should monitor (or have monitored)   pulse rate and blood pressure.  The individual should self-monitor for fatigue.
  • A graduated exercise program to help monitor energy expenditure and to systematically increase work load is recommended.

  • Bobbing and water adjustment activities help emphasize breath control.
  • Under water swimming should usually be avoided.

Sickle Cell Anemia

  • Make sure the individual with sickle cell drinks plenty of water as dehydration will increase sickling.
  • Individuals with sickle cell need to advised of the risk of severe pressure changes and the risks involved in deep sea diving.
  • Individuals with sickle-cell anemia need a safe and effective program designed by a physician and the aquatic instructor, acting in concert.


  • Carter, M. J., Dolan, M. A., & LeConey S. P. (1994). Designing Instructional Swim Programs for Individuals with Disabilities, Reston, Virginia: American Association for Leisure and Recreation an association of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
  • Lepore, M., Gayle G. W., & Stevens S. F. (1998). Adapted Aquatics Programming: A professional guide. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Winnick, J. P., (Eds.). (1995). Adapted Physical Education and Sport. (2nd ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

page last updated 1/3/2017 1:00 PM