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Can Exercise Cause Varicose Veins?

There are a lot of myths swirling around about varicose veins. When these unsightly veins appear, you may wonder if they are caused by something you’ve done. Many people worry that exercise causes varicose veins. Learn more about the relationship between exercise and vein disease to find out lifestyle change that can improve your vein health as well as vein treatment options.

What Are Varicose Veins?

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Varicose veins are enlarged veins that look purple or blue in appearance. Although they most often form on the legs, they can technically develop anywhere on your body (the groin is another common location). Varicose veins occur when your venous system does not efficiently move deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Weakened vein walls and excess pressure from pooling blood causes “varicosities,” which appear as bulging veins. These weakened valves can be a result of poor circulation causes by lifestyle factors or simply genetics. 

Fortunately, effective vein treatment options are available, including non-invasive vein surgery for both varicose and spider veins. Your Houston vein center can help you find treatment approaches that are best for you.

Exercise and Varicose Veins

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Exercise and varicose veins are related, but not in the way you might think. There is no scientific evidence that exercise causes varicose veins. In fact, evidence points in the opposite direction: getting a moderate amount of exercise may actually prevent varicose veins from forming. This is because exercise strengthens your circulatory system, preventing changes to vein walls that elevate your risk for varicose veins.

Vein doctors recommend that you aim to get 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact physical activity every day, as this can be protective of your circulatory system health. Walking your dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away in the supermarket parking lot, cycling, swimming, taking a dance class, or gardening are great ways to get more exercise into your routine. Thanks to the latest technologies that require little downtime, you can even resume light exercise within days of your vein treatments. The only exception to this rule is that it is generally not recommended to lift heavy weights - each person is different but lifting heavy weights increases the amount of pressure on your veins. Talk to your vein doctor to see if you should be lifting weights and how much weight is safe for you.

The Actual Causes of Varicose Veins and How to Prevent Them

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Although exercise is not a major contributor to varicose veins, there are other risk factors. Some are factors that you cannot change: for example, being a woman, getting older, or having a family history of vein disease. Other risk factors are within your control. Maintaining a healthy body weight puts less stress on your veins and helps improve circulation and blood pressure, making it less likely that you will develop varicose or spider veins.

You should also avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time, as this can cause blood to pool in your lower legs. Another preventative measure is to avoid wearing constricting clothing or crossing your legs when you sit, as these things can cause restriction of venous blood flow. Even wearing high-heels can increase the chance of varicose veins. Really, anything that puts stress on your legs is not recommended. Wearing compression stockings or elevating your legs can be a helpful way to keep blood moving if you sit or stand for long periods of time.

Take the First Step Towards Healthy Legs

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If you’re worried about your varicose veins or general vein health, it’s time to get proactive about your health. Call Metro Vein Centers to make an appointment today. Our board-certified vein doctors specialize in minimally-invasive treatments that may help in addition to some of the lifestyle changes mentioned above.