Exercises and peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Exercises and peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which the blood vessels that supply blood to the legs are narrowed or blocked by plaque, a fatty substance that builds up in the artery walls. This reduces the blood flow to the muscles and tissues in the legs, causing pain, cramps, numbness, or weakness, especially when walking or exercising1.

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Exercise is one of the best ways to manage PAD symptoms and improve your quality of life. Exercise can help increase the blood flow to your legs, reduce the pain and discomfort, improve your walking ability and endurance, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and prevent further complications such as heart attack or stroke2345.
The best exercise for PAD is walking, as it directly targets the muscles and arteries in your legs. You should aim to walk at least 30 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week. However, you may not be able to walk continuously at first, as you may experience pain or cramps in your legs. This is normal and expected, and it means that your muscles are getting more blood and oxygen. You should not stop walking when you feel pain, but rather slow down or rest for a few minutes until the pain goes away, then resume walking. This is called interval walking, and it can help you gradually increase your walking time and distance2345.
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Other exercises that can help with PAD are cycling, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, or any low-impact activity that elevates your heart rate and improves your circulation. You can also do some strength training exercises for your legs, such as squats, lunges, calf raises, or leg presses. These exercises can help strengthen your muscles and bones, and prevent muscle loss or osteoporosis2345.
Before you start any exercise program for PAD, you should consult your doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help with your symptoms and prevent blood clots. You may also need to undergo some tests to measure your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and ankle-brachial index (ABI), which is a ratio of the blood pressure in your ankles and arms. Your doctor may also refer you to a supervised exercise program or a physical therapist who can guide you through the exercises and monitor your progress2345.
Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental and emotional well-being. Exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and improve your mood and self-esteem. It can also help you cope with the challenges of living with PAD and enjoy a more active and fulfilling life.

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