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:
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.
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.
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.
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.