Diet & Varicose Veins

You’ve got to move it, move it!

If you want to avoid varicose veins, exercise is just as important as sticking to a healthy diet. By being active, you’ll boost your circulation. Keeping your blood moving is vital if you want to avoid these unsightly, uncomfortable bulging veins on your legs.

The other great advantage of exercise is that it burns calories! If you’ve read our blog about diet and varicose veins, you’ll know that being overweight greatly increases the risks of varicose veins.

Can I still exercise if I have varicose veins?

As with any medical condition, you should always consult a doctor before starting any exercise programme – especially if you’ve been quite inactive recently. In the case of varicose veins, it’s important to avoid any activities that make you strain, so weightlifting and sit-ups are out, as well as any exercise that involves having to hold your breath.

Instead, begin gently – you can always increase the intensity later. Walking is one of the best all-round forms of exercise – you can do it anywhere, you don’t need any special equipment and you can do it at your own pace. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise at a time, and do this several times a week (for example, during your lunch hour).

Always listen to your body – contrary to what some gym addicts may tell you, if it’s hurting then it’s definitely not working! You might also want to avoid contact sports like soccer or rugby, as a bump or cut on your varicose veins could cause a lot of bleeding and pain.

What are the best exercises for avoiding varicose veins?

Any exercise that boosts your circulation can help. We’ve already mentioned walking, and cycling (including on a stationary bike) is also a great way to help push blood back out of your legs and prevent it pooling.

An even better option may be swimming, as it involves pushing your legs against the resistance of the water. As you’re essentially horizontal, your legs are higher than your heart, so you get the benefit of gravity helping move blood out of your limbs, too.

Exercises that work your thigh muscles can also be highly beneficial in terms of promoting blood flow back to your heart. Whichever form of exercise you choose, always stretch first and cool down afterwards.

Make the itching stop!

The forms of exercise we’ve described above can all contribute to improved circulation. If you have some of the common symptoms of varicose veins, including itchiness and swollen or ‘heavy’ limbs, being more active could provide some relief.

What about exercise after varicose vein surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, you should only begin exercising again after consulting with your doctor – and take things slowly at first. Once you’ve been given the go-ahead, start with gentle exercises and build up again.

What if exercise isn’t enough?

If you’re doing all the right things but still not getting any relief, a surgical intervention may be necessary. Arrange a consultation with Dr Francois Steyn on 012 993 4161 or 012 993 0911, or at francois@surgeon.co.za for advice on exercise, diet and varicose vein treatment options.