Exercise Recommendations for Persons with Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Exercise Recommendations for Persons with Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

By Paul Sorace, MS, RCEP, CSCS | March 8, 2021

For people with Peripheral Vascular Disease, exercise can improve your circulation as new blood vessels form, helping to ease pain.

Why Exercising with PVD is Beneficial

PVD occurs when plaque made up of cholesterol and other fatty substances clogs the blood vessels that lead to the legs and feet. This typically cause pain and cramping in your legs when you’re working harder because the muscles in that area are not getting enough blood and oxygen.

It might seem like exercise would only make things worse. But the opposite is true. It can actually improve your circulation as new blood vessels form. This can ease the pain, known as claudication.

Steps to the best workout for PVD

  1. Warm up. Stretch your calf and thigh muscles in each leg for 10 to 20 seconds.
  2. Start walking. Walk at a fast enough pace for about 3-5 minutes, even though it may cause some mild to moderate pain.
  3. Stop and rest until the discomfort goes away.
  4. Repeat the walk-and-stop routine several times. During the first two months of your walking program, build up slowly to walking a total of 35 minutes each session, not counting the rest breaks. Keep adding a few minutes until you’re at the goal of walking 40-50 minutes.
  5. Cool down. Finish by walking slowly for 5 minutes. Then, stretch your calf and thigh muscles again.
  6. The aim is to eventually do 50 minutes of walking, at least 3 to 5 times a week. As that becomes easier, challenge yourself to work harder. You could try walking up hills or stairs, or add an incline to your treadmill routine.

Keep in mind: PVD took years to develop in your legs, and it will take a few months to improve your walking. It’s important to be patient with yourself.

Looking for simple changes that can have a major impact on your health?


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