Exercise and Varicose Veins

Picture of a women exercising

As a commonly occurring disorder among men and women, varicose veins usually runs in the family and develops from the weakening of the valves that regulate blood flow. Fortunately, there are exercise strategies that if performed on a routine basis, may reduce blood pooling in the legs, assist with weight control and decrease the pressure on these delicate venous structures. By increasing muscle strength, performing repetitive movements of the body and improving circulation, specific activities may prevent the formation of varicose veins.


As an ideal aerobic activity, walking prevents the pooling of blood in the leg veins and improves circulation. Each step causes the musculature around the venous structures to expand and contract and provide a pumping action that pushes the blood away from the vessels and towards the heart. Taking a stroll on a daily basis is a simple but effective activity that may decrease the development of varicosities.


Experts agree that swimming is the best activity for the prevention of the blood engorgement in a vein that contributes to the damage of the venous valves. The position of the body in swimming aligns the legs with the heart and decreases the resistance to circulation. Kicking the legs also provides a pumping action similar to walking and encourages the blood flow back to the heart. Swimming is also low impact and does not place pressure on the legs, feet or joints.

Exercises for the Legs

For those who have occupations that require them to sit or stand for long periods of time, it is important to periodically exercise the legs and remove the pressure of pooling blood in the lower extremities. These simple movements of the legs may also improve circulation. While sitting, perform the following movements:

  • Rotate your feet at the ankle by creating 10 to 20 small circles
  • Next, raise your legs off the ground and point and flex your toes 10 to 20 times
  • Raise your legs and bend and straighten each one at the knee at least 10 to 20 times
  • Elevate your legs whenever possible


For a low impact workout, biking is an excellent aerobic activity that strengthens the large muscles in the lower extremities and pushes the blood from the legs. The rotation of the legs while pedaling, the contraction of the muscles and an increased heart rate while biking all contribute to the prevention of the characteristic bulging of a varicose vein. By biking on a regular basis, the activity may alleviate the buildup of pressure in the venous structures and prevent the destruction of the tiny valves that cause varicosities.

A Healthy Life

In addition to activities that enhance circulation, it is also vital that you maintain a good weight, avoid smoking and carefully discuss the side-effects of medications on your blood vessels with your physician. Ensure clothing is never constrictive, wear flat shoes when possible and avoid crossing your legs while at rest or sitting. Living a healthy lifestyle and staying active is crucial to preventing the development of varicosities.