Daily Walking: Improve The Overall You By Walking Daily & Reducing The Appearance Of Varicose Veins
Having varicose veins can be embarrassing, painful, and sometimes dangerous. It's fairly common to develop them as we age from lack of exercise, poor diet, excess weight, or even genetics. In the United States they affect about 1 in 7 men and 1 in 4 women. If you're mobile and have varicose veins, there's a simple exercise you can do each day to reduce the pain and appearance of varicose veins.
The Differences Between Veins and Arteries
Although veins and arteries both carry blood, they have some distinct differences. Arteries are very muscular and can contract to change blood pressure and aid blood flow. Veins are much less muscular than arteries and instead must rely on skeletal muscle contraction to keep blood moving. Most arteries don't have to work against gravity very often since the heart is located in the top third of the body. On the other hand, most veins do have to work against gravity. Veins prevent the back flow of blood with one-way valves, which open when blood pushes up through them and close as blood falls back onto them.
Why Do Varicose Veins Form?
The valves in veins can become weakened over time with blood constantly pushing against them. This can be exacerbated when blood volume increases (which can occur due to water retention from the foods we eat or during pregnancy), when circulation is strained by excess body weight, or from poor circulation due to lack of exercise. As these valves weaken they gradually let more and more blood flow backwards through them, which pools somewhere further down the line, usually in the calves and feet. Pooling blood can cause poorly toned veins to distend and bulge, resulting in varicose veins.
How Walking Can Help Varicose Veins
Walking provides the muscle contraction necessary to efficiently push blood through the veins in the legs and also encourages veins to become more toned. Getting your heart-rate up also improves circulation in general, taking pressure off of veins. In addition, physical activity strengthens the heart, allowing it to pump blood more efficiency and lower blood pressure. To get the most out of walking, it's good to walk briskly (increased breathing rate but not so much that you can't hold a conversation) for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. Help build the habit of walking by finding someone to walk with you. It's both physically healthy and will allow you to catch up on events or vent about your day.
Other Benefits of Walking
In addition to eating right, the regular exercise walking provides can help you manage your weight. Brisk walking performed 30 minutes each day may lower the risk of heart disease by 30 to 40%. Physical activity also boosts good cholesterol, which may ward off atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases. The pressure from upright exercise also keeps leg and hip bones strong, diminishing the risk of fracture upon falling. Walking is one of the easiest ways to get your heart-rate up, strengthen the bonds with friends or family, and diminish the appearance and pain of varicose veins. So what are you waiting for? Find some good shoes and get out there and walk!
Photo Credit: shyb