When it comes to varicose veins, exercise has many benefits. First, regular physical activity can offset being overweight and spending too much time sitting—both of these can increase your risk of varicose veins.
Exercise also improves your blood circulation and the muscle tone in your legs and other parts of your body. And once you start exercising regularly, you will have more energy to keep moving throughout the day.
Before you start any new exercise program, check with your doctor to see which kinds of physical activity are appropriate for you. The best way to make progress is to start slowly and build up to longer, more intense exercise.
Exercise Improves Blood Circulation
Most forms of physical activity will improve your blood circulation, including walking, jogging, swimming and tennis. But even physical activities like dancing and gardening can keep your blood pumping.
You can also include smaller exercises in your day to keep the blood moving through your veins. While sitting, rotate your ankles and flex your calf muscles. Or, if possible, get up and stretch every 30 minutes.
If you already have varicose veins, avoid wearing exercise clothes that are tight through the upper legs and groin. These may constrict the flow of blood from the legs.
Top 4 Exercises for Vein Health
Some of the best types of exercise for vein health are those that activate the muscles of your legs. These may help relieve symptoms of varicose veins by increasing the pressure on the veins. This includes both cardiovascular exercise and weight (or resistance) training.
Certain types of vigorous exercise, though, such as running, may aggravate your varicose veins. Stick with low- to moderate-intensity activities, especially if you are just starting out with exercising regularly.
Here are a few of the top exercises for people with varicose veins:
Walking is an excellent low-impact activity that works all the muscles of the leg, particularly the calf muscles. Try to walk briskly 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You can also walk more during the day — such as getting off your bus one stop earlier, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to your coworker’s office instead of phoning.
Biking is the ultimate in low-impact leg exercise. To stay motivated, try biking outside. The fresh air and relaxing scenery will keep you biking longer and more often. You can also get the same benefits for your blood circulation on a stationary bike or elliptical bike at the gym.
If you have varicose veins, stick to lower weight and higher repetition exercises. These will engage your muscles without impeding the blood flow back to your legs. Some good exercises include:
- Leg lifts: Sit down or lie on your back, lift one leg slowly off the floor as high as comfortable. Hold your leg in the air for a few seconds and then slowly lower it to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Do this several times on each side.
- Calf raises: Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Slowly stand up on your tiptoes and lower back down. Repeat five to ten times.
- Bicycle legs: Lie on your back and bring your legs in the air, with your knees bent and over your hips. Pedal slowly like you are riding a bicycle. Reverse the direction.
Yoga is a good whole-body exercise. There are many styles, so if you are new to it, choose a gentle or low-impact version. Yoga combines gentle stretches with muscle activation. There are also several poses that involve elevating the legs over the heart, which can reduce the blood pressure on the veins in your leg.