The Effect of Blood Donation on Exercise Performance

By Simon Bennet and George Mckay.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Introduction: A double-blind, randomised controlled trial examined the effect of a 450ml blood donation on exercise performance and, in particular, aimed to determine when performance returned to pre-donation levels. Methods: Maximal exercise in the form of a reliable, repeatable 20m multi level shuttle test was performed twice before and three times after venesection. Thirteen healthy young males completed the study protocol and were randomised; eight were venesected and five remained controls. The study was double blind. Results: One day following venesection, the bled group’s mean performance was reduced by 5.2% compared to controls (p=0.010) along with a drop of 7.7% in blood Hb concentration. At day eight, performance was still 4.9% below controls (p=0.017) with Hb concentration 5.4 % below baseline. At day twenty-two, performance was not significantly different from controls and Hb concentration was 1.7% below baseline. Psychological factors in the controls may cause the bled group’s performance drop to be underestimated. Conclusions: Blood donation significantly affects maximal exercise performance up to at least eight days after donation but returns to normal by twenty-two days. This information should allow athletes to plan donations around training and competition.

Keywords: Blood Donation, Exercise, Haemoglobin, Randomised Controlled Trial

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.91-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 361.222KB).

Simon Bennet

Specialist Registrar, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Severn Deanery, Bristol, UK

I am a trauma and orthopaedic specialist registrar, based in Bristol and training in the Severn Deanery. I have been awarded the UIAA diploma in Mountain Medicine and am a keen rock climber and mountaineer. My current research interests include the changing patterns of infections following joint replacement surgery and the efficacy of different antibiotic prophylaxis regimes. I have recently published work examining blood transfusion rates following primary hip replacement surgery, emphasising the potential for reducing transfusion rates. The RCT examining blood donation and exercise performance submitted for this conference aims to equip athletes with the knowledge to plan trips to the blood bank so as to minimise the effect on their training schedules.

George Mckay