Want an easy way to boost your vein health? Try exercise! Varicose veins are created when vein valves in the lower leg become damaged. This makes it difficult to pump blood upward against the flow of gravity, so it ends up pooling in the vein. Multiple factors, including age and genetics, contribute to your risk of developing varicose veins. But, through exercise, you can lower your risk by strengthening your calves to improve your circulation. As the vein specialists in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center, we have some dos and don’ts for exercising for your varicose veins.
What Exercises Can Help Your Vein Health
When picking exercises to boost your circulation and help your veins, low-impact is usually the better route. There are many low-impact exercises that you can fit into your daily routine — and most of these can be done at home without any additional equipment. These include:
- Walking: Walking is one of the best low-impact exercises you can do. This exercise stretches and strengthens the calves, which is great for boosting circulation in your legs. Try walking for 30 minutes a day, even if it needs to be broken up throughout the day. This can include taking short walks during your workday to break up long patterns of sitting (which is also bad for your veins!), or by parking further away from the grocery store to get those extra steps.
- Bicycling: Either a regular or stationary bike can be beneficial for your leg health. Don’t have a bike? You can still benefit from mimicking the bicycling motion. Try lying on your back and putting your legs up in the air, bending them at the knee. Then, peddle your legs as if riding a bike. Perform this motion with both legs for a challenge, or do one leg at a time for an easier, yet still beneficial exercise.
- Lunges: Start by standing with both legs together. Then take one slow step forward and bend that same leg. Make sure your knee stays directly over your ankle. Hold this position before coming back to a neutral stand. Then repeat with the other leg.
- Swimming: This is a great one for those hot summer months. Being horizontal when swimming places your legs above your heart, which encourages blood to flow upward through the leg.
- Cool water vasoconstriction: Cool water immersion results in a central pool of blood, which is better for vascular tone and strength. Aquatic exercises in cold temperatures can improve the rate in which muscles reoxygenate.
- Buoyant: Buoyancy lessens the effect of gravity walking in a swimming pool and is best for activating calf muscles.
- Feet rocking: If these forms of exercise are unavailable, that’s okay, too. The simple act of rocking your feet can help circulation in the leg, where the calf muscles are. Just rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. This can be done at any time during the day and is a great one to try if you’re frequently spending most of your day either sitting or standing.
What Exercises Can Inhibit Your Vein Health
These exercises may put a strain on your vein system, but they are still very important for overall health. They tend to put undue stress on your veins.
- Weightlifting: Lifting heavy weights can put additional pressure on the abdomen, which prevents blood from traveling to the heart as it should. To lift weights safely, opt for more reps with lower weights, use proper breathing technique (don’t hold your breath and exhale during your lift), and cross-train with aerobic exercise. You can also talk to a vein specialist about wearing compression socks during your exercise routine to encourage proper circulation.
- Running: If you already have varicose veins, the act of running can put extra pressure on the veins. Run on grassy or synthetic ground to reduce the impact on your veins and joints and wear professionally sized compression socks (especially during long distance runs).
Of course, it’s also important to remember that exercise isn’t the only thing that can help your vein health. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Exercising can help your vein health, but it won’t entirely prevent varicose veins, nor will it cure existing ones. If you currently have concerns about your veins, schedule a consultation with the vein specialists in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center by calling 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today. We’ll assess the current state of your veins and create a treatment plan that will be best for you.