Whether you already have varicose veins or are eager to prevent them, exercise is one of your best weapons for improving vein health.
Every day, many Americans spend hours on end sitting at a desk or table. Though this sedentary lifestyle is somewhat unavoidable, it can take a serious toll on your health — especially the health of your veins. Fortunately, it’s possible to counteract the negative health effects of sitting — studies suggest that around just 30 minutes of activity a day can be enough to ward off varicose veins or other health concerns.
Light, low-impact exercise is one of your best weapons in the fight against varicose veins. Patients who don’t have varicose veins can often avoid them altogether by maintaining a regular exercise routine, and patients who do have varicose veins can relieve their symptoms and prevent them from worsening.
While exercise alone can’t entirely prevent varicose veins, and only surgical intervention can heal them for good, it’s certainly worth incorporating some of these fun, safe exercises into your routine.
The Best Exercises for Varicose Veins
As a general rule, patients should aim for about 30 minutes of activity a day. If that’s too difficult to accomplish at first, it may be easier to break that time up into three blocks of 10 minutes — it still counts, even if it’s not continuous! These exercises are safe and effective for patients with varicose veins.
- Walking. Walking is a fun way to lose some weight and enjoy the outdoors. On top of that, it gets the blood pumping and prevents blood from pooling in the lower extremities, where it could form or worsen varicose veins. Activities that get your blood circulating are great for your veins!
- Bicycling. Like walking, cycling strengthens your calf muscles and improves blood flow. On top of that, it’s low-impact and doesn’t require you to place excessive stress on your joints.
- Lunges. Lunges are a great exercise for patients with varicose veins because they strengthen many of the muscles in the legs and feet. When these muscles are strong, they can help keep your blood flowing at a suitable rate.
- Swimming: Like cycling and walking, swimming is a low-impact aerobic exercise that keeps blood pumping without much risk of injury. Better yet, when you swim, your legs stay above your heart — this position can help drive blood from the feet and legs to the heart.
If these exercises sound daunting, don’t worry — even small tweaks throughout your workday can significantly improve circulation and soothe varicose vein symptoms. For example, you may consider eating lunch at your desk and going for a walk during your usual lunch break. Simple leg exercises such as calf raises (standing on your tiptoes for a couple of seconds, then lowering back down) are easy to perform while waiting for coffee to brew or for a conference room to open up.
Exercises to Avoid if You Have Varicose Veins
Before you dive head-first into your new exercise routine, it’s important to note that not all exercises are safe for patients with varicose veins. Specifically, any exercise that exerts too much pressure on the veins can make venous reflux worse or impede blood flow back to the heart.
Examples of these exercises include strenuous running, weight training, and exercises that require prolonged abdominal posturing, such as yoga. While jogging can be safe for varicose vein patients, prolonged endurance running or sprinting can be hard on the joints and leg veins. Similarly, heavy weightlifting can temporarily impede blood flow, which isn’t safe if you have varicose veins.
If you’d like to learn more about exercises that are safe for varicose veins — or if you’d like to discuss options for getting rid of your varicose veins once and for all — consider making an appointment with Vein & Vascular Institute. With four offices located throughout New Jersey, we’re here to help you look and feel your absolute best, unhindered by varicose veins.