Walking is a simple and effective form of exercise with numerous health benefits.
Walking regularly can lower the risk of blood clots, heart disease, and venous disorders such as varicose veins, which are quite common among women and older adults.
India reports over ten million cases of varicose veins every year, and over 30% of adults are estimated to suffer from this chronic venous disease. While varicose veins are not a life-threatening condition, their symptoms can cause severe discomfort and stress and interfere with day to day functioning of life. This makes it increasingly important to manage the highly uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins and prevent the development of newer varicose veins.
Apart from wearing medical-grade compression socks, doctors also recommend walking as a way to manage varicose veins symptoms.
Is Walking Good for Varicose Veins?
Walking is an excellent exercise for managing and preventing venous disorders like varicose veins, spider veins, etc. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Walking helps in reducing the strain on your legs
One of the biggest risk factors for varicose veins is obesity, and walking is a great weight loss tool.
Walking is a kind of cardio workout popularly known as low-intensity steady-state or LISS. LISS workouts are excellent for fat loss and can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Losing weight will directly decrease the pressure on your legs and veins, thus lowering the risk of developing varicose veins.
2) Helps maintain cardiovascular and venous health
The benefits of walking daily reach far beyond the physical aspects of your body. Walking raises your body’s heart rate, which helps your overall circulation and has a significant impact on your heart health.
One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that people who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events (like a heart attack or stroke) compared with those who did not walk regularly. Walking keeps the heart active and healthy, boosting blood circulation throughout the body. Better blood circulation means a lesser strain on your veins and, thus, reduced risk of varicose veins.
3) Helps delay the onset of chronic issues like varicose veins
When the veins in your legs are unable to pump blood upward and back towards your heart properly, blood starts to pool in your lower legs, causing swelling and ache. This eventually leads to varicose veins.
Our veins require proper muscle contraction to keep the blood flowing against the pull of gravity. That’s where walking saves the day.
Walking activates the muscle pump in our calves which helps with smoother blood flow within the veins, thus maintaining proper blood circulation. It’s the perfect lifestyle choice for healthy veins.
If you are genetically predisposed to varicose veins, then walking can help delay the onset by strengthening the veins in your legs.
4) Prevents the formation of new varicose veins
If you have varicose veins, you know how uncomfortable and painful it can be with the swelling, soreness, and itching. You don’t feel motivated to move around, let alone exercise. However, exercise is what you need to do to improve the mild to moderate symptoms of varicose veins.
Another benefit of walking is that it’s a low-impact exercise that helps boost blood circulation while not being too taxing on your veins. It also helps prevent new varicose veins from forming.
5) Eases pain
One of the biggest benefits of walking daily with or without varicose veins is that it helps to alleviate joint and muscle pain.
A 2019 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine followed 1,564 adults older than 49 with lower-body joint pain. Participants who took up walking for an hour each week were more likely to remain disability-free four years later.
As you start walking, the initial 5-10 minutes might be uncomfortable, but as the blood starts pumping faster, your body gets used to the motion, and the discomfort fades away. After a week, you wouldn’t even feel any toll of the stroll.
Other Health Benefits of Walking
The miraculous health benefits of walking aren’t just restricted to venous and joint health. Regular walking can even help improve other aspects of your health.
1) Helps reduce stress and lift your mood
Living with chronic diseases like varicose veins can be as emotionally stressful as it’s physically taxing. Anxiety, stress, and depression are common among chronic disease sufferers. Walking is an easy technique for taking care of your mental health.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Walking can reduce stress and elevate your mood. Walking is a form of aerobic exercise, and aerobic exercises are known to boost the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) in the brain.
Walking helps reduce stress, especially if you stroll amidst greenery. It instantly lightens your mood.
2) Walking improves sleep quality
It’s no secret that your overall health is directly linked to a good night’s sleep. Sleep is your body’s automatic repair shop. From your cardiovascular system to your mental health, everything is affected if your sleep quality is not satisfactory.
Walking as an exercise boosts the sleep hormone- melatonin, which can help you doze more soundly and comfortably, giving your body the time to heal itself.
People with varicose veins often complain about having trouble sleeping at night due to swelling or leg pain. Walking can help relieve the swelling and pain, making it easier for the patients to sleep better.
Sleeping on your right instead of your back or stomach can significantly help varicose veins patients. Morning walks can help significantly in improving your sleep quality.
Importance of morning walk in improving sleep quality
Going outside for a morning walk can significantly improve your wakefulness and help set your circadian rhythm, your body’s inner clock, so you’ll be more awake in the morning and sleepier as sleep time approaches.
3) Walking extends life expectancy
Walking can help you live more; it’s as simple as that.
Walking has been linked to a decreased risk of mortality or a longer life expectancy. This 2011 study published by the British Medical Association followed 27,738 participants aged 40 to 79 years over a 13-year period and discovered that people who walked for more than one hour a day had a longer life expectancy than participants who walked for less than one hour a day.
Walking is an easy, low-impact exercise with significant benefits for varicose veins and your overall health.
Exercise can seem daunting to some people, but walking can be a great option that doesn’t require too much time or effort. You can incorporate walking effortlessly into your daily schedule and keep your veins and overall health in check.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is the best benefit of walking?
The best benefit of walking is increased cardiovascular fitness, which helps reduce the risk of chronic heart disease and stroke.
Q2. What time of day is best for walking?
The morning time (5 AM to 10 AM) is the most optimal time for walking, especially outdoors.
Q3. Should you walk before or after you eat?
The decision to walk before or after a meal depends on the benefit you are seeking. A brisk walk as a form of workout enhances the body’s metabolism, enhances cardiovascular fitness, and strengthens bones and muscles. Thus it is best to do a brisk walk at least 30mins before your meal.
A short slow, pace walk or stroll after a meal can improve digestion, reduce blood sugar levels and lessen bloating.
Q4. Is it good to walk in the morning on an empty stomach?
Walking early in the morning on an empty stomach is one of the best tips on how to naturally jump-start and boost your metabolism.