We’re becoming 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 are sitting at their full-time jobs, and you have a population that’s getting almost no exercise.
Instead, we’re on our digital devices, watching television, or sitting and eating — all of which contribute to obesity and heart disease, as well as varicose and spider 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.
For some people, these veins are just a cosmetic concern. For others, they cause pain, heaviness, aching, bleeding, and itching.
They can be a sign of a worsening medical condition, like venous insufficiency, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and others.
You should, therefore, should see a doctor to talk about spider or varicose vein treatments if you are under medical care for any of these conditions.
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.
So, if you’re wondering, “Does exercise help spider veins?” — the answer is a resounding “yes!”
The Best Exercises for Spider Veins, Varicose Veins, and a Healthy Heart
A recent study showed that people who were most 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.
So besides helping to prevent varicose veins, a solid exercise program will also help you maintain a healthy weight and stave off heart disease and other chronic diseases.
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym, either. Even a few minutes of exercise 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 veins on legs from showing, take a look at examples of the best exercises for spider veins and good health.
Walking is the simplest of all exercises since 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 daily walks for vein health, so don’t worry about penciling out big chunks of time for exercise.
2. Marching in Place
If you work at a desk job and can’t go for walk out-of-doors or even around the office every half-hour without enduring curious stares, then just march in place beside your desk.
Marching in place will still get your heart pumping and blood moving. Lift your knees high and swing your arms for maximum cardiovascular benefit.
If you’re feeling 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 are traveling on planes or public transportation for long periods, try this easy exercise to tighten your calf muscles.
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.
Not only is bicycling low-impact, 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 get a stationary bike and ride in air-conditioned comfort at home or at the gym.
You can reap the benefits of bicycling even without a bike – just 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. 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 for 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 as well.
To do this, stand on your tiptoes, pause, then lower your heels to the ground.
Repeat to fatigue.
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.
Quadriceps stretches performed on one leg have a balance component which over time can reduce risk of falling, and also build core strength.
All stretches can help increase circulation and strengthen muscles that support your veins.
The Spider Veins Exercise You Should be Doing
Now you’ve got a variety of exercises that will suit any budget, time constraint, or environment. But you must do the one exercise that is necessary for good vein health — the one that gets you moving.
Choose the spider veins exercise you enjoy most so you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
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. In fact, you’ll have boosted your activity by two and a half hours every week if you keep accomplishing this tiny little change.
In fact, this tiny little addition to your day is enough to begin to offset the negative health outcomes we incur due to 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.
And 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 be inspired to keep going.
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