Take a minute to think about how much time you spend sitting at work, in front of the TV, or in your car: it starts to add up. We have slowly become a nation of sedentary people.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) showed that Americans move far less than we did just 20 years ago. Currently, 52% of women and 43% of men report participating in no leisure-time activities. Add to that the fact that almost 86% of American workers sit at their full-time jobs, and you have a population that gets almost no exercise.
A recent study also showed that people who were mostly sedentary had a 147% increase in cardiovascular events. That’s scary, considering the average adult spends 50 to 60% of their time in sedentary pursuits.
Besides helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise for varicose veins can stave off heart disease and other chronic diseases.
Exercise and Varicose and Spider Veins
A common misconception about varicose and spider veins is that exercise for varicose veins can make vein issues worse. There isn’t any scientific evidence suggesting that exercise causes or worsens existing venous insufficiency. In fact, data suggests that exercise for varicose veins can help you manage existing vein disease. While you may not want to run a marathon if you have varicose veins, most vein specialists recommend engaging in low-impact physical activity every day to strengthen and protect your circulatory system.
The Best Exercises for Varicose and Spider Veins
A few minutes of exercise for varicose veins every half-hour or so can help get your blood pumping, strengthen your leg muscles to support your veins, and help keep you fit. If you want to know how to prevent varicose veins on your legs from showing, take a look at examples of the best exercises for varicose and spider veins.
Walking is one of the best exercises for varicose veins because it requires no specialized equipment. You can even do it barefoot if you live close to the beach or a grassy park.
The easiest thing to do is to get up and take a stroll around the block or even just the perimeter of your building if you work in an office. Set a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to move every half-hour or so for maximum effectiveness.
Short five-minute walks every 30 minutes can be more effective than longer exercise for varicose vein health, so don’t worry about blocking off big chunks of time for exercise.
2. Marching in Place
If you work at a desk job and can’t go for walk outside or even around the office every half-hour, then just march in place beside your desk.
Marching in place is another good exercise for varicose veins as it will get your heart pumping and blood moving. Lift your knees high and swing your arms for maximum cardiovascular benefit. If you feel like you need a challenge, you can grab a light weight in each hand and do biceps curls or overhead presses while you march to tone your arms.
3. Calf Flexors
If you spend a lot of time at a desk or traveling on planes or public transportation for long periods, try this easy exercise to tighten your calf muscles that will help improve varicose veins. Put your feet flat on the floor, then slowly raise your toes, stretching your calf muscle. Now, lower your toes to the floor and raise your heels, repeating for 30 seconds to one minute.
You may even find the rocking motion soothing or meditative. Think of it as a mini-leg massage.
One of the best leg exercises for varicose veins, running is a fantastic circulation booster, and it doesn’t take much to get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. Even a 20-minute jog in the morning or at lunchtime can provide muscle- and heart-strengthening benefits.
It is high-impact, so if you have joint problems or other physical limitations, check with your doctor before starting a running program.
Cycling is one of the best exercises for varicose veins. Bicycling is a low-impact exercise, and it’s a great way to strengthen the leg and calf muscles to help support your veins. You can take your bike for a spin around the block, or you get a stationary bike and ride in air-conditioned comfort at home.
You can also reap the benefits of bicycling without a bike: lie on your back on a towel or mat and pedal your legs in the air. Do this as long as you can in one-minute intervals interspersed with 15 seconds of rest. As with all aerobic exercises, be sure to stay hydrated.
6. Toe Flexes
Similar to calf flexors, the toe flex is an easy exercise to do anywhere to help your varicose veins. At home, lie on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Point your toes forward as far as you can, then back. Do this rhythmically 20 times per leg.
7. Tippy Toes
Nothing could be simpler than this calf-strengthening exercise that also helps prevent legs cramps and muscle spasms in the leg.
To do this, stand on your tiptoes, pause, then lower your heels to the ground.
Repeat until you become fatigued.
Squats are so easy that you can do them in the privacy of your cubicle or office. If you’re at home, you can do a few sets while on the phone, while cooking, or even watching television.
To do a proper squat, start with your legs shoulder-width apart.
Now, slowly lower your butt as if you are going to sit back on a chair.
Keep your back straight and your head facing forward.
When you get to a seated position, slowly reverse the process until you’re standing again. If you need extra support, do it against a wall.
Even simple stretching reaps big benefits for your veins and your core strength.
Side bends build core strength which is good for posture and stabilizing the body during exercise, which in turn reduces risk of injury.
Quadricep stretches performed on one leg have a balance component which over time can reduce risk of falling and build core strength. However, if you have knee pain, try a kneeling hip flexor stretch instead.
All stretches can help increase circulation and strengthen muscles and are good exercises for varicose veins.
The Spider Veins Exercise You Should be Doing
Symptoms and the appearance of spider veins can also be managed with the exercises described above. Spider veins usually appear because of underlying vein disease and venous insufficiency, so strengthening your leg muscles and improving your circulation through exercise offers a great way to alleviate your symptoms. While exercise can help relieve varicose and spider vein symptoms, exercise alone cannot get rid of diseased veins.
What are Varicose and Spider Veins?
A varicose vein is any enlarged, twisted, bulging vein, although they are more common in your legs and feet. Spider veins, which are smaller and closer to the surface of your skin, are just a milder version of varicose veins.
Some people believe that spider veins are just a cosmetic issue, because they don’t always cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Unfortunately, spider veins can be a sign of a worsening medical condition, like venous insufficiency, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and others.
You should see a doctor to talk about spider or varicose vein treatments if you are under medical care for any of these conditions.q
Even if you don’t see visible varicose or spider veins on your legs, that doesn’t mean you don’t have underlying venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease. For some people, vein disease may cause them to experience painful symptoms, while others may not feel anything at all. If you’re interested in learning more about vein disease, click the button below to take our 1-minute symptom quiz.
Causes of Varicose and Spider Veins
Varicose and spider veins are signs that the valves in your veins are not closing properly.
A vein’s job is to carry blood to your heart so your arteries can re-circulate it back into your tissues.
When veins become stretched, weak, or suffer a mechanical function, they’re unable to do this job well. Then, blood pools in the veins, causing them to enlarge.
There are several common causes of varicose/spider veins.
- Prolonged Standing or Sitting
As you age, your veins lose elasticity, causing them to stretch and the valves to weaken, allowing the blood to pool in your veins.
If you’re a woman, the hormonal changes of pregnancy and menopause cause vein walls to relax, contributing to varicosities. In fact, menopausal women commonly seek hormone replacement therapy to combat varicose veins. If you’re obese, your weight puts extra pressure on the valves in your veins, causing them to work harder and wear out sooner.
In addition, a sedentary lifestyle, or a job where you stand or sit for long periods, can contribute to a restriction of blood flow. Exercise is one of the lifestyle changes you can make to help with spider veins.
Which Exercise For Varicose Veins Will You Commit To?
Now that you know multiple exercises for varicose and spider veins which suit any budget, time constraint, or environment, you should make an exercise plan for yourself. Choose the varicose and spider veins exercise you enjoy the most so it’s easy for you to stick with.
Even if you have physical limitations, just stand up and move for two minutes every half hour during an eight-hour workday. This means a 32-minute increase in activity every day. Over time, this really adds up: you’ll boost your activity by two and a half hours every week if you commit to making this small change in your daily routine.
In fact, this addition to your day is enough to begin to offset the negative health outcomes that can occur with long periods of inactivity. It’s enough to strengthen your leg muscles to support your veins, boost your circulation, increase your mood, and lower your risk of chronic disease. Once you get going and start seeing the changes in your body, in the way your legs feel, and in your vein health, you’ll feel inspired to keep going.
As mentioned earlier, while exercise is good for your circulatory health, it cannot get rid of your varicose or spider veins. Once veins become diseased, they typically require treatment of the underlying cause. If exercise for varicose veins and other lifestyle changes do not alleviate your symptoms, you may need to seek out further evaluation from a vein specialist. With over 90 locations in over 16 different states, USA Vein Clinics can provide you with the varicose or spider vein treatment you need to start living a comfortable life. Contact us at 888.768.3467 if you have any questions about our treatment options, or if you’re ready to speak to a specialist about treating your varicose or spider veins, schedule an appointment using the button below.