How Exercise Prevents Both Heart Disease and Vascular Disease
Even amid a deadly global pandemic, preventing heart disease is still important. We know that exercise can help strengthen muscles, and the heart is our biggest one. Are you aware that exercise can not only build up the heart but also improve circulation and vascular health?
“Understanding the relationship between exercise and vascular disease is one of the key ways to prevent it from developing or progressing,” shares Dr. Yan Katsnelson. We also want you to know how your heart health directly impacts your veins’ health and vice versa. After all, your veins are responsible for carrying blood back to your heart.
It’s important to recognize that a heart condition may make vein problems worse. If you suffer from a heart problem, you need to find out why your leg veins may be at risk of getting much worse.
Some patients may develop both heart and vein conditions. Specific symptoms, such as leg swelling, venous ulcers, and blood clots can indicate vein disease like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), or heart problems such as Congestive Heart Failure. When heart and vein disease are left untreated, the risk of developing serious health issues increases, so it’s important to see a specialist who treats veins and arteries.
For example, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep venous system that can travel to the lungs and lead to a Pulmonary Embolism. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) refers to the narrowing of arteries in the legs, arms, stomach, and head. This can cause circulatory issues, blockages, and even gangrene. Congestive Heart Failure describes a condition when the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can put you at risk for kidney failure, problems with your heart valves and rhythms, and liver damage.
Along with causing painful and uncomfortable symptoms that can affect your quality of life, some of these complications can quickly develop into life-threatening situations.
Fortunately, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise can improve both your heart and your vein health. Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between exercise and heart and vein diseases, and where to find expert care.
How Does Exercise Prevent Heart Disease?
Exercise has been shown to lower your resting heart rate, unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. Once these three potential problems are reduced to healthy levels, your risks of developing cardiovascular disease are also reduced.
Exercise helps your heart become more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. Physical activity also allows better blood flow in the small vessels around your heart. There is evidence that exercise helps your body make more branches between these blood vessels, creating other routes for your blood to travel. The same holds true for the veins in your lower extremities, which means exercise also helps with your vascular health.
Exercise provides these added benefits that contribute to having a healthy heart and vascular system:
- Keeps your weight down.
- Improves your mood.
- Lowers your risk for some types of cancer.
- Improves your balance.
- Reduces your risk of osteoporosis by increasing your bone mass.
- Gives you more energy.
- Helps you sleep better.
How Much Exercise Is Recommended?
It may be easier than you think to establish a regular exercise routine. We know getting enough exercise along with eating a healthy diet can help prevent heart and vein issues from developing. These actions may also help keep active heart disease from progressing.
Your heart health improves with just 30 minutes of activity on most days. You can even break your exercise up: two 15-minute segments of exercise or three 10-minute segments count as 30 minutes. If you can’t regularly dedicate time to exercise, remember that getting any exercise is much better than none at all!
Along with improving heart health, physical activity can benefit your veins. Exercise is a step you can take to prevent vein disease, the underlying cause of varicose and spider veins.
Which Exercises Can Improve My Vascular Health?
While many different forms of exercise can benefit your health, cardiovascular-based activities are usually best when it comes to your heart. Yan Katsnelson, M.D, recommends the following activities to help you achieve better heart and vein health.
Walking is one of the simplest exercises you can do to improve your heart health. It is low-impact, can be done just about anywhere, and doesn’t require any special equipment other than comfortable shoes. You can walk outside in fresh air, march in place at home, or use a treadmill at the gym.
If you are new to walking for exercise, start with short distances and work your way up to longer ones. Ideally, you should aim for 10,000 steps per day, which is about five miles. You can track your steps on a smartphone, smartwatch, or exercise tracking device –– or go “old-school” with a basic pedometer.
We understand that 10,000 steps may sound overwhelming. It’s helpful to know that, based on a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine, most people can benefit their health even if they only achieve 7,500 steps a day. Here are some ways to help you get some extra steps:
- Use the stairs, not the elevator, when you can.
- Park further away from entrances.
- Take the long way, instead of the shortcut.
- Get off your public transportation one stop earlier, and walk the rest of the way.
- At home, break tasks up to do them one at a time. For example, take more than one trip to bring laundry to the laundry room, or dishes to from the table to the kitchen.
Running or Jogging
If or when you’re ready to bump your fitness up to the next level, you may want to consider jogging or running. These activities are great ways to burn calories, build muscle, and get your heart pumping. Similar to starting a new walking routine, be sure to start your running regime out slowly. You can always work up to greater distances and speeds over time.
We understand that going for a run isn’t for everyone. One major downside is that because running is high-impact, it can be hard on your joints. To reap some of the same health benefits with less strain involved, try adding short jogging intervals during your walks.
If you suffer from joint pain or limited mobility, swimming is an excellent alternative that can effectively strengthen the heart. It gets your blood flowing, is very low impact, offers a full-body muscle workout, and burns many calories.
Many community pools offer convenient open-swim hours for adult lap swimming. You can also take organized swim lessons or try aquatic alternatives like water aerobics. All you really need to get started is a swimsuit, towel, and pair of goggles.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has risen in popularity during recent years. The surge is aided by research indicating a range of health benefits associated with this type of exercise. We now know that it is one of the best ways to burn calories, lose weight, and improve vascular health.
A HIIT session involves periods of extremely intense activity that last between 10 seconds and a minute, alternating with periods of anaerobic activity or rest. High-intensity activity can be just about anything that gets your heart rate up. You can try walking fast, doing jump squats, or jumping rope.
No matter what you choose for the main activity, don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after your workout!
Get Started Now
If you are not exercising these days, we recommend getting started as soon as possible. If you are only somewhat active, try increasing your activity level to 30 minutes a day, five days per week.
Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any type of new exercise. They will likely agree that the sooner you start exercising, the sooner you can enjoy the many vascular benefits it offers.
Improve Your Vascular Health at USA Vein Clinics
As mentioned earlier, your veins play an integral role in your heart health because they carry blood back to your heart. If you are experiencing symptoms like leg swelling or leg ulcers, we recommend consulting one of our specialists for a full medical evaluation. Once the underlying cause is determined, treatment may be recommended to help you avoid dangerous health complications.
Vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency, can lead to a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms. These include leg swelling, cramping, itching, and fatigue. When left untreated, vein disease can also cause dangerous health conditions like blood clots and venous ulcers.
We want you to be aware that vein disease involves many of the same risk factors as heart disease. To reduce your risks for both, it is important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), and eat a healthy diet.
Book a Consultation Today!
If you are concerned about your heart and vein health, we suggest contacting one of our top-rated specialists at USA Vein Clinics. Keeping your heart health in mind, our experts specialize in diagnosing and treating a wide range of venous conditions, including varicose and spider veins.
Our minimally invasive treatments are performed as outpatient procedures and can often be completed during your lunch hour. After treatment, you can leave immediately and return to most normal activities.
To schedule your initial consultation, just give us a call at 888.768.3467 or use our online scheduling form. We offer in-person visits at 90 locations across the country, along with telemedicine options. Our team looks forward to addressing your venous symptoms and helping you get back to living life at its fullest!
Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vein Clinics, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vascular Centers, and USA Oncology Centers with more than 90 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home, and his mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.