For most people who exercise regularly, the worst advice they can get is to stop. After all, exercise usually makes you feel better and more energetic. It helps you maintain a healthy weight and tones your muscles.
If you have varicose veins, however, not all exercise is good for you.
In that case, you should find the balance between getting (or staying) in shape and doing things that could make the varicose veins worse.
Do this Exercise for your Veins
Walking is a good example of the perfect exercise for people with varicose veins. It keeps your blood moving and exercises your calves, which act as a pump to help move blood from your lowest extremities back to your heart and lungs. Walking is better than running if you already have varicose veins, because the extra pounding of a run is thought to increase the pressure in your leg veins and weaken them.
If you are addicted to running, physicians suggest that you at least avoid concrete and asphalt and concede to run on an artificial track or grass to soften the jarring effect on your legs.
Aerobic exercise like swimming and stationary biking, which include no pounding of the legs, are great for leg health as well as your heart.
Don’t do these exercises
You might be surprised that some forms of exercise that don’t even require moving from one spot are not recommended for people with varicose veins.
Weightlifting involves straining and pressure on the abdomen, where a large vein called the vena cava resides. The vena cava supplies veins to the lower body, and the bending and contracting involved in weightlifting restricts that blood flow. If you do lift weights, make sure you are following the proper form, don’t hold your breath, and do a few minutes of aerobic work afterward. Compression socks are a good idea, too.
The following muscle-building and stretching exercises are also on the “Not Recommended” list:
- Sit ups
If these are activities you just can’t live without, do them in short bursts, followed by a walk around the block. The goal is to get your blood moving without constricting blood flow or putting undue pressure on the veins in your legs.
A check-up and consultation at the Vein Institute of Connecticut will help you design the exercise routine that works for you. Sign up here for a free vein consultation visit with Dr. Alex Afshar.