PAD Exercise Tips

6 Things PAD Patients Should Consider Before Starting an Exercise Routine

Regular exercise improves heart function and is beneficial in preventing the progression of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).  Here are some important considerations for getting started with a PAD exercise routine:

Eat a healthy diet

1. Exercise is Only Part of The Equation 

One of the most important things that you can do to manage your PAD is to reduce or quit smoking.  For lifetime smokers, the thought of quitting can be intimidating.  A great way to start is through a smoking reduction program.  Gradually decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day can be one way that might help you get and stay on track.

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important when living with PAD and can address health conditions and risk factors that contribute to PAD, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or diabetes.  In general, it is important to eat a diet low in sugar and avoid processed food.  A healthy diet also takes into consideration your other underlying health conditions such as diabetes or kidney issues.

Supervised PAD exercise program

2. Consider A Supervised Program 

By partnering with a medical professional, you will ensure that your health program is customized to your current health and medical conditions.  Your medical practitioner can work with you to develop a diet and exercise program that works for your current health and risk factors.  Open, clear, and honest communication between you and your medical practitioner will ensure the best possible outcome.

3. Start Gradually 

The ideal PAD exercise routine is designed to gradually increase the amount you are able to exercise without stopping.  Starting slowly with only 5 – 10 minute short walks twice a day will make sure you are calibrated to your current health level.  After a few days, ramping up to 15 – 20 minute walks should feel pretty good. It is important that you do not burn yourself out at the start of your routine so that you stay motivated and make progress.

Journal your progress

4. Track Your Progress 

If you keep track of everything you have done, when you look back at it you can get a good idea of the progress that you have made. Keep a notebook of your progress and celebrate your improvement with small but healthy rewards.  If you miss a day, don’t worry about it, you can always start fresh the next day.  It is important to realize that exercise is not about perfection – it is about progress. There are also apps available for tracking exercise and journaling if you would prefer that over a pen and paper.

5. Listen To Your Body 

Always rest when necessary.  PAD exercise routines are not designed to stress your body but to build up its strength.  Mild discomfort while walking is normal but if you find you are unable to complete your routine due to weakness or discomfort, it is time to check in with a medical professional.  If you start to experience chest pain, stop walking immediately and call 911.

Have fun with PAD exercise

6. Have Fun With It 

You will be much more successful if you find a way to enjoy your new routine. Consider finding a walking buddy – a regular routine with another person can help you stay on track and make your exercise routine more enjoyable.  Listening to music is another great way to make your exercise plan more fun and relaxing.

If you are a PAD patient and would like to start a medically supervised PAD exercise program to manage your symptoms, please call us at (833) 4PADHELP, and one of our patient advocates can set you up for a consultation at one of our 16 Modern Vascular locations.

Cycling to improve circulation

5 Tips for Improved Circulation

The circulatory system is the transportation highway of the body. Blood vessels carry and deliver oxygen, nutrients, and healing cells to all parts of the body. Poor circulation can result in poor wound healing, heart disease, stroke, and a myriad of other conditions. Symptoms of poor circulation may include muscle pain, swelling, and fatigue. Fortunately, there are many simple and manageable steps one can take to improve circulation.

Woman walking for exercise

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is a sustainable way to improve circulation. Exercise increases the heart’s pumping rate, which increases the flow and pressure of blood throughout the body. The controlled increased pressure of blood helps stretch blood vessels, making them more flexible with time.  This stress is essentially like stretching for blood vessels because it helps retain flexibility. To start an exercise routine, it is recommended that one start slowly and build steadily to avoid overstressing the heart. Simple stretching, walking, and yoga and great exercises for beginners.

Drinking water for better circulation

Drink More Water

Drinking adequate water is another simple way to improve vascular health. Because blood is composed of 50% water, maintaining healthy hydration, in turn, maintains healthy blood viscosity and pressure. Water aids in digestion by increasing bowel regularity and flushing bacteria and waste from the bladder. This positive effect on digestion allows the body to break down nutrients effectively and also allows the circulatory system to efficiently deliver those nutrients throughout the body.

Healthy diet for vascular health

Eat a Healthy Diet

Small changes to diet can make a big difference for the circulatory system. Limit saturated fats in the diet and include more omega-3 fatty acids. Replacing red meat with fish can improve heart health.  Some foods have a direct effect on the blood vessels. Capsaicin is a chemical that makes food spicy and stimulates the release of vasodilators, which are chemicals that can help expand the blood vessels. Cayenne pepper has been shown to increase circulation and reduce the amount of plaque that gets stuck on the artery walls.  Other vasodilators, such as leafy green vegetables and turmeric, release nitric oxide to elicit their effect. Antioxidants, such as anthocyanin found in berries, prevent arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the vessel walls.

Reduce anxiety and stress

Reduce Stress

Taking steps to manage your stress can improve circulation and reduce the potential for vascular disease. Chronic anxiety can cause hyperventilation which can increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Increased carbon dioxide levels lead to vasoconstriction, increasing damaging blood pressure while decreasing blood flow efficiency. To reduce stress, prioritize restorative sleep. Sleep improves concentration, regulates mood, improves decision-making abilities, and restores the body.

Identify triggers and work to eliminate them. Plan things ahead more often to eliminate surprises that can cause stress. Exercise, meditation, and massage can all increase stress-relieving hormones. Finally, a trained psychologist is the best resource for providing mental health care, including managing stress.  

Take the steps to quit smoking

Quit Smoking

One more important step to take for circulatory health is smoking cessation. Smoking is known to contribute to hypertension (unhealthy high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease. The nicotine in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products cause vasoconstriction. As discussed earlier, this vasoconstriction decreases healthy blood flow throughout the body and increases blood pressure to a point that the internal vessel walls are damaged. Smoking increases carbon monoxide levels in the blood. Carbon monoxide binds the oxygen-carrying molecule, hemoglobin, thereby decreasing oxygen transport throughout the body.

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Tips to improve poor circulation

Final Thoughts

Improving circulation can be sustainable and doesn’t need to be difficult. A decreased risk of heart attack, peripheral artery disease, and hypertension can be as easy as incorporating the above tips into one’s daily routine. Of course, it is important to share your concerns and lifestyle with a physician. Small lifestyle changes can make a big impact on not only vascular health but overall wellbeing.

PAD Patients: Exercise Routine Considerations 5 Tips for Improved Circulation
5 Tips for Improved Circulation PAD Patients: Exercise Routine Considerations
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