Best Exercise for Peripheral Arterial Disease?


September is Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month, and it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about this cardiovascular condition.  Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a circulatory issue in which the peripheral arteries narrow. Due to plaque buildup, it can decrease blood flow in the legs, arms, head, and organs. One of the most common symptoms of this condition is leg pain that is exacerbated by exercise. As one would expect, this can make physical activity difficult—but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on exercise! What is the best option for exercise for a patient with peripheral arterial disease? Cardiovascular Institute of the South is here to educate you on exercises that can help you to maintain a healthier lifestyle, even with PAD.

What Is the Best Exercise for Peripheral Arterial Disease?

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. 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 therapy helps patients create a foundation for daily physical activity. Steady dedication to your exercise routine can, in turn, lead to steady improvement.

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!

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 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