Tips for Exercising With Peripheral Artery Disease

The pain and cramping you experience when you walk may just feel like another unfortunate part of getting older. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The symptoms of peripheral artery disease are completely treatable and manageable. You can even get exercise that keeps you in good shape and alleviates some of your symptoms. 

At Premier Vein & Vascular, Dr. Saleem Saiyad and his experienced staff are dedicated to not only treating your peripheral artery disease, but also equipping you with the tools you need to maintain a comfortable, active lifestyle. 

The basics of peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a circulatory problem caused by narrowed arteries, reducing the blood flow to your limbs namely your lower legs. Your arteries become narrowed as plaque builds up along their walls and makes it harder for blood to pass through and deliver oxygen. 

The most common symptom of PAD is painful cramping in your lower extremities even with minimal movement like walking or going upstairs. Risk factors for this disease include increasing age, diabetes, smoking, and other medical complications like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obesity. 

There are lots of ways to treat your PAD conservatively, including quitting smoking if you’re a smoker and controlling your overall health. Exercise is also a great way to manage your PAD symptoms. 

Exercise and PAD

It might seem strange that exercising is on the list of possible PAD treatments when taking a few steps can cause you significant pain. Because this disease is rooted in circulatory problems, increasing your blood flow will improve your symptoms. Here are a few things to consider when getting ready to exercise:

Pick the right footwear

Right now, your legs need all of the support they can get, and that starts with the shoes and socks you choose to wear while exercising. Find a good pair of supportive shoes to wear when walking or being active. A thick pair of socks can also add support and protect pressure spots. 

Get warmed up

This is not the time to skip the stretch. Take your time getting ready for your workout by stretching your calf and thigh muscles for at least 10-15 seconds each. This helps your muscles prepare themselves for activity. 

Start with baby steps

The best exercise for PAD is interval walking. Find a treadmill or a route around your neighborhood that you enjoy. Walk for a few minutes at a good pace even if you feel mild pain, and then rest for a few minutes. Repeat this process several times, starting with a total walking time of approximately 30 minutes, building up to a goal of roughly 50 minutes. 

If walking is proving too stressful, you can always start in a pool where the water carries your body weight for you and alleviates the pressure on your legs. For a challenge when you’ve built up a tolerance, try climbing stairs or hills or increasing the incline on your treadmill. 

Although interval walking does require you to experience and work through some discomfort, never push yourself past your pain limits. Talk to Dr. Saiyad if walking is simply too painful or you have concerns about severe pain. 

Try other exercises

Walking isn’t the only workout you can do to increase circulation. Consider a stationary bike, an elliptical, or even gentle yoga to get your blood moving without adding pressure or impact to your lower half. You can even focus on other areas of your body like your core muscles and your upper body if your legs are in too much pain. Any sort of movement can improve your circulation, your overall health, and your PAD symptoms. 

Dr. Saiyad directs you toward the best exercises and activities depending on your specific needs. Never start a workout regimen without consulting him beforehand. 

Don’t let your PAD symptoms keep you from the things you love to do. If you long for the days when you could comfortably take a stroll around the block or be active with your family, call our office, or schedule an appointment online today to talk with Dr. Saiyad, and get started with treatment.

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