If you have peripheral artery disease (PAD), the blood vessels leading to your legs and feet narrow, leading to symptoms of pain and cramping. Improving your circulation through exercise is an important part of easing the symptoms of PAD. However, you’ll need to take care when exercising with PAD to avoid painful cramping.
At the Vascular Institute of New York, board-certified vascular and endovascular surgeon Enrico Ascher, MD provides comprehensive care and support for patients with leg artery disease. Here are some of the tips and suggestions Dr. Ascher gives to our patients who need to keep up an exercise program after a PAD diagnosis affecting the legs.
Benefits of exercising for PAD
The buildup of plaque, composed of cholesterol and other fatty substances, that cause your PAD effectively restrict the healthy flow of blood to your legs. Without the nutrients and oxygen in your blood, your leg muscles weaken and cramp painfully.
When you work out, your circulation increases, supporting the formation of new, unclogged blood vessels. The right types of exercise may actually relieve your PAD-related pain and discomfort.
Any type of exercise can improve your overall health and wellness. But, for patients with PAD, forms of exercise that move and work your legs can be especially beneficial. Walking is one of the best types of exercise for PAD patients, with multiple clinical trials showing real benefits from this type of activity.
Warming up and cooling down
When you’re working out with PAD, your prep and cool-down steps make a big difference in your ability to avoid cramping. Before you start your workout, make sure to thoroughly stretch your calf and thigh muscles. Stretch each leg for 10-15 seconds before you start walking, biking, swimming, or any other athletic activity.
You should also cool down after every workout, taking five minutes to walk slowly, and stretching your calf and thigh muscles before you call it a day.
Taking breaks during exercise
When exercising with PAD, it’s best to alternate periods of activity with periods of rest. Exercise for about five minutes, even if you feel some pain and discomfort. After five minutes have passed, stop exercising, and rest until your pain recedes. You can repeat this technique as needed.
Over time, you can increase the amount of time you exercise before taking a rest break. Dr. Ascher can help you develop an exercise plan to build up your strength and stamina. After a few months, you might be able to exercise for 50 minutes before needing a rest break.
To learn more about the right exercise program to help you with your PAD, get in touch with Dr. Ascher at the Vascular Institute of New York today. You can schedule your appointment at our Brooklyn or New York City, New York, offices by giving us a call, or book online now.