Exercise and Varicose Veins: The Do's and Don'ts

Varicose veins occur when blood isn’t able to pump from the feet and lower legs up to the heart and instead begins to pool in veins and enlarge them. If you suffer from varicose or spider veins, you most likely have questions about exercise and how it affects your venous condition. 

While exercise is generally good for you and can help reduce your risk of varicose veins, certain exercises are better for your veins than others. Here are some exercise do’s and don’ts for individuals with varicose veins.


The best exercise is walking. It’s a simple, inexpensive, and low-impact activity that stretches and strengthens your calf pump. Set a goal to walk 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.

Stationary Bike and Elliptical
If you want to work your calf muscles and legs, and improve your circulation without placing stress on your joints and bones, riding a stationary bike or using the elliptical are great activities.

Swimming offers many advantages for those with varicose veins. Water exercise gets you off of your feet, horizontal in the water, works your leg and calf muscles, and helps the blood flow return to your heart.

Along with improving circulation, dancing is a great social activity and mood booster.


High Intensity Running
If you have varicose veins or are at high risk for venous disease, high intensity runs or runs that are lengthy put added pressure on your veins and joints, and may aggravate the swelling of varicose veins. If you do want to run, wear compression stockings and/or try it indoors and on softer surfaces.

Weight Lifting
Lifting heavy weights puts excessive strain on your veins. If you enjoy weight lifting consider working out with lighter weights and increasing your reps. Try to keep your legs at the same level or higher than your heart. Also avoid holding your breath while lifting.

Leg squats puts pressure on your veins and can cause venous reflux, which leads to varicose veins.

Sit ups and Crunches
Strenuous abdominal exercises worsen venous reflux and should be avoided.

Exercise is important in preventing venous disease and maintaining healthy legs and veins for life. Just be sure that you’re doing the right exercises by following these simple exercise do’s and don’ts. 

Elmore Medical Vein & Laser Treatment Center is the premier vein specialty medical practice in the Central Valley. Dr. Mario H. Gonzalez and his staff offer years of experience and medical expertise that you won’t find anywhere else. Contact us today to set up a consultation appointment.

Jennifer Guidry