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Exercise, Fitness and Sports

Can a person with von Willebrand disease play sports?

Yes. It is important that all people with VWD engage in regular exercise to keep their muscles and joints strong and their health good. Being in good physical condition can actually reduce the number of bleeding episodes a person has, especially in Type 3 VWD.

Another benefit of regular exercise is the raising of the VWF levels.

A person with VWD will have to find out for himself/herself what physical activities he/she can or cannot do. Many people with a mild disorder participate in all kinds of sports including active sports like soccer and high-risk sports like skiing. People with Type 3 VWD may find these activities lead to serious bleeding.

Children, especially, need to be given the chance to discover what activities they can safely do. It is very important for a child’s development to participate in the same sports as his/her friends. It is natural, of course, for parents to want to protect their children from harm. With VWD, the best way to protect children is to make sure they follow the latest safety guidelines for all children involved in sports: for example, helmets for bicycling, rollerblading, skiing and snowboarding; shinpads and helmet for soccer; and full mask for hockey.

Specialists at the Hemophilia/Bleeding Disorder Treatment Centre can advise a person of the risks based on an evaluation of his/her condition. However, in the end, the person living with VWD is the best judge of which activities are appropriate.