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Best Exercise for Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Exercising with peripheral arterial disease

September is Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month, and it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about this cardiovascular condition. Have you been searching for the best exercise for peripheral arterial disease? One of the most common symptoms of this condition is leg pain, which can be exacerbated by exercise.

As one would expect, this can make physical activity difficult— but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on exercise! Cardiovascular Institute of the South is here to educate you on exercises that can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle with PAD.

What Is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a circulatory issue in which the peripheral arteries narrow. Due to arterial plaque buildup, it can decrease blood flow in the legs, arms, head, and organs. PAD can be caused by a number of conditions, including smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol. 

It’s important to speak with your doctor if you notice any signs of PAD. An early diagnosis can help patients take action to prevent the disease from progressing and avoid the more serious health consequences associated with PAD.

What Is the Best Exercise for Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Individuals living with PAD should continue to exercise. But, they may need to modify how they exercise to protect against potential injury.

Walking is often considered the best exercise for those with peripheral arterial disease. If you have this condition, this may seem counterintuitive. Unfortunately, walking often inflames PAD and causes pain in the legs. However, don’t let this keep you from exercising. 

Try walking on a treadmill for as long as you can, or until your pain reaches a three or four out of a five-point scale. Then, rest. Give your body time to recover and your pain time to subside. 

Once you feel the pain recede, start again. Continue this cycle for an hour. Just don’t forget the importance of a warm-up and cool-down. Make sure to stretch your muscles for 10 to 15 minutes before and after walking!

The purpose of this exercise therapy is to help patients with PAD steadily build up their tolerance to walking. This can not only make exercise more bearable, but it can also increase one’s ability to carry out daily tasks, like grocery shopping or simply walking outdoors or throughout the home. 

Even if you don’t experience fast results, don’t give up! Exercise helps peripheral arterial disease patients create a foundation for daily physical activity. Steady dedication to your exercise routine can lead to steady improvement.

Cycling to exercise with peripheral arterial disease

Is Cycling Bad for Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Walking may be the best exercise for peripheral arterial disease. But there are also other exercises that can be beneficial for those living with this condition. Try incorporating bicycling into your routine. 

A 3-month study showed that cycling can provide PAD patients with benefits similar to those gained from walking. Patients participated in a supervised bicycling exercise program that measured physical endurance. They also filled out a questionnaire to gauge their quality of life before and after the study. 

Following the exercise program, participants showed an increased walking distance and greatly improved overall well-being. So, if you are looking for another exercise to include in your regimen, outdoor or stationary cycling can be a great addition!

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a circulatory condition that can cause symptoms like pain, cramping, or fatigue in the leg muscles. Regular exercise can help improve these symptoms and boost overall cardiovascular health. Here are some of the best exercises for individuals with PAD:

Yoga is a great exercise for PAD

5 Exercises for People With PAD 

While these exercises are generally considered safe for those living with PAD, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen.

1. Walking 

Again, walking is often the type of exercise recommended for PAD, as it helps increase the distance you can walk without pain. Start slow and take breaks when the pain begins to build up, but don’t give up. Gradually increase your pace and distance as your strength improves.

2. Strength Training

Exercises such as leg curls, calf raises, and squats can help strengthen the muscles in your legs, improving your endurance and ability to walk longer distances without pain.

3. Cycling

Cycling, whether on a stationary bike or outdoors, can help improve blood flow, build strength, and increase endurance without putting excessive strain on your joints.

4. Swimming

This low-impact exercise can increase your heart rate, improve circulation, and build muscle strength without putting pressure on your joints.

5. Yoga

Yoga can improve flexibility, balance, and strength. It also promotes relaxation and stress relief, which can be beneficial for overall cardiovascular health.

When It Comes to Exercise and Peripheral Arterial Disease, Consistency Is Key

Regular exercise is a key part of managing PAD and promoting overall wellness. It’s about more than just physical health. It’s about empowering yourself to take control of your well-being, understanding your body’s needs, and making informed decisions about your care.

Please note that while exercising can improve PAD symptoms, it’s not a substitute for medical treatment. Always consider your healthcare provider’s advice regarding medication, lifestyle changes, and possible surgical options.

Protect Your Heart Health With Cardiovascular Institute of the South

Peripheral arterial disease can lead to serious health issues, including peripheral artery blockage—a contributor to limb loss. Cardiovascular Institute of the South is dedicated to the education, diagnosis, and treatment of major heart conditions, including PAD. Let us help you with early screenings and prevention. 

We utilize several non-invasive methods to assess your condition and develop comprehensive treatment plans for relief. Request a PAD Appointment with us today! Or, visit your closest CIS center. Together, we can fight the negative effects of PAD and promote a healthier future.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff