I’m in the middle of a park in Sydney handing a sample of my blood to a man covered in tattoos – admittedly this is normally how crime novels start, not fitness blogs, but hey, this blog isn’t named Not Your Normal Health Blog for nothing and the man covered in tattoos is actually a personal trainer. Called Mark Moon, he’s here to tell me all about his blood type workouts.
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Why Might Blood Type Workouts, erm, Work?
The principle is simple. Our blood type is one of the things that determines who we are and what our body needs. It determines what foods work best for us, how we react to stress, what illnesses we are susceptible to and, what exercise we need – and there is a perfect exercise for your blood type.
Now sceptics might be saying ‘phooey’ here, and I’m not sure what side of the fence I specifically fall on but what I can tell you is that at least one of the statements above has some proven scientific truth to it – different blood types do seem to be slightly more susceptible to different health problems.
Recent studies have found, for example, that type Os have lower risk of stroke and heart attack. On top of that, there have been similar links made about the risk of type 2 diabetes with type AB having the highest risk of developing this.
It’s also believed (although there’s a bit less firm science on this bit) that the blood type you have causes you to respond differently when you eat different foods meaning some foods might be fine for one blood type, but trigger inflammation, which leads to poor health and weight gain, in others. This is the premise behind the wildly popular Eat Right for Your Type book (click here to check that out) and there are heaps of people who swear by it.
In Japan, it’s also believed that blood type determines personality and it’s treated a bit like your star sign. You can buy bath salts most suited for your blood type, buy drinks for your blood type and even get matched on dates for your blood type. There’s a great piece here about the blood types and personality.
And, on top of all this, it’s also believed that different blood types release different chemicals in response to stress – and, as exercise is a stress on the body (albeit it a good one) this is why blood types and exercise might be linked – and why different workouts might work more effectively for different blood types.
It was all enough to intrigue me to find out more.
What Determines Your Blood Type?
There are four main blood types – A, B, O and AB.
Which you have is passed down from your parents. You get a blood type from each of them – so, if both your mum and dad are type A you will be too, if your mum is a type O and your dad is an A, you could be an O or an A.
While the blood of each type is mostly identical in that they all contain white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and plasma, what makes the four types different from each other is a tiny molecule — known as an antigen — that attaches to the outside of your red blood cells.
Antigens can change the way your blood behaves making it thinner, thicker, stickier, more resistant to bacteria, or more prone to catching bugs.
Which brings me back nicely to our Sydney park and me trying to stab myself in the finger. After all, if you’re going to exercise for your blood type, you have to know it- and I have no clue as it’s not something that’s tested normally in the UK and so I’m intrigued to find out.
NB: If you’re like me and have no idea what your blood type is you can buy tests online (for less than £10, or even $10 for US readers) that’ll give you the result in a minute or two. Here’s one if you want to know yours.
Getting the sample is relatively simple and just requires pricking your finger with a sterile lancet (yes there was antiseptic used) – you then drop four drops of blood onto a sheet of cardboard which contains a coating that reacts with your red blood cells revealing your blood type.
It turns out that I was an O Type.
At this point things got interesting, Mark gave me a sheet explaining the health characteristics of blood type O.
The first thing it said was that O types have high stomach acid and are often plagued with problems related to it – you know I keep talking about foods that cause bloating and my dodgy gut here – well I have a form of acid reflux which is making my life miserable right now!
It also mentions that Os get angry when stressed out – erm, yep! We also turn to destructive behaviour when tired or bored – can you say ‘eat all the chocolate, drink all the wine’!
It was uncannily like me…..But I’ve diverted, we’re supposed to be talking exercise so I asked Mark what this blood type meant for my workout
The Best Workout for Blood Type O
Apparently, it’s not so much what I do that matters for me, but that I do it regularly as type O’s need consistent exercise to stay sane and healthy – again, completely true, everything from my mood to my skin and my bowels go haywire if I don’t work out.
Cardio or strength both work but it needs to be brisk and challenging to get the best results. Top exercises for O Blood types, therefore, include circuit training, HIIT classes and interval training. We’re also very goal orientated so focusing on numbers also suits us.
Mark said if he was training me he’d put me on a circuit-style routine mixing up body toning moves and cardio. Again, I know that works well for me.
Mark and I didn’t talk about eating for your blood type, but generally, type Os do well on a Paleo-style diet as we are descended for hunters. Get a list of foods here.
Or, if you just want to get going and find some recipes that work well for you there is a specific Type O cookbook with over 150 recipes to get your started.
How to Exercise for Your Blood Type
But there are of course four main blood types, and while type O might be the most common what does the theory say you should be doing if you’re one of the other three?
The Best Workout for Blood Type A
A blood types are perfectionists so it’s not surprising that As need exercise to counteract their stress levels and so yoga, pilates and tai chi are perfect exercises for A blood types.
You can do other workouts but be careful not to overtrain when you’re tired or sick as that will raise levels of stress hormones higher than is good for health and counteract results.
Also, look after your joints as these can be a weak spot for A blood types. You might also find you ache more after exercise than others as the higher levels of stress hormones you release during a workout can increase stiffness the next day.
Again, we didn’t talk food, but generally, type A’s are said to thrive on a vegetarian diet – you can find a food list here.
Or, just like with type Os the blood type diet trend has led to the creation of cookbooks and other offshoots so you can find some great recipes designed especially for your blood type here.
The Best Workout For Blood Type B
Balance in all areas of life is key for Bs – you’re very affected by stress and changes in routine.
As such you need to do workouts that work your body and mind together like racquet sports – tennis, badminton and squash are great exercises for type B blood types. They also work well for your personality which is quick-thinking and adaptable. Just watch you don’t get too competitive as you’re not a great team player.
Mark also suggests cross-training plans to Bs so that no one part of the body dominates and all muscles are worked in turn.
It’s also suggested that the ancestors of B blood types were nomads which means they travelled in packs so group classes work well for you.
In terms of diet, balance again is your thing. You should stick with a flexitarian style routine that mixes up meat, dairy, carbs and veggies about equally. Buy a list of suggested foods here.
And yes, you’ve guessed it – there’s a special recipe book for type B blood types as well. You can order it here if you want to get started cooking right away.
The Best Workout for Blood Type AB
This is the rarest blood type and is a mix of the characteristics of both A&B so for you exercise needs to reduce stress but also balance you.
Mix up sessions of yoga with a session or two or something like running, tennis or cycling and you should do fine. If you just want one exercise that works best for blood type AB, it’s probably walking as it helps calm your head and work your body without putting too much stress on the body.
Type AB are also very social so maybe join a walking group or hiking club. You’re also spiritual so that side of yoga will appeal to you, or you might want to try a walking practise like a gratitude walk (we explain how to take one of those here). Like Type As, watch your joints.
Like type Bs you’re okay to eat a bit of everything – find meal suggestions and recipes in this book just for you.
As I said I’m not sure whether I completely buy into the theory but the O characteristics are strangely accurate so it’s something I’d like to investigate further.
If you want to know more though here’s where to find out more about Mark and what he’s doing. Note: you don’t need to be in Sydney to take advantage of his plans. He offers them online.
So what do you think? Would you do a blood type workout?
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.