Is exercise for varicose veins a good idea? This is an interesting question as some think that exercise can cause varicose veins and some think it can prevent them. Both answers are correct. There are many different factors that can cause varicose veins such as heredity, pregnancy, gender, age, prolonged standing, and injury or trauma to the veins. While it can be difficult or even impossible to control these factors, exercise is one of the factors we do have control over.

Some exercise may help prevent varicose veins

Walking is the best exercise for vein health. It stretches and strengthens the calf muscles which act as pumps for the circulatory system in your legs. Plus, walking is something most people can do naturally every day. If you don’t walk or exercise and you have been sedentary for an extended period of time, be sure to take it slowly and build up to longer distances and a faster pace.

Adding exercise as a regular part of your routine improves overall health and reduces the risk of obesity which is a common factor for varicose veins. Before starting an exercise plan, talk with your doctor. Other exercises that may not necessarily help to prevent varicose veins but are low impact are:

  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Using an elliptical trainer machine
  • And any other low-impact exercise.

Risky exercise for varicose veins

High impact or strenuous exercise like weight lifting, running on hard surfaces, and aerobic activities with a lot of jumping or squatting can exacerbate varicose veins. Strenuous pounding exercise can increase pressure on the veins and increase the chance of developing varicose veins. If you have a genetic predisposition for varicose veins or other risk factors, opting for low-impact exercise over these riskier exercises will help you avoid causing further damage to vein walls.

If your preferred exercise is running, try to stay away from hard surfaces like pavement and concrete sidewalks. Look for parks with soft dirt trails or running tracks with rubberized surfaces. If you enjoy lifting weights, use more repetitions with lower weight. This is hypertrophic approach is actually more effective in building muscle.

Avoid a sedentary lifestyle

Perhaps the worse thing you can do for varicose veins is to do nothing at all. Does your job or lifestyle have you spending long periods of time standing or sitting? Lack of movement or exercise is associated with causing or worsening varicose veins. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, it is important to make changes. Take frequent breaks from sitting or standing and walk around.  This movement will help to get blood pumping back up to your heart and release pressure on the veins in your legs. Remember, walking is one of the best activities for circulation in your legs.