If peripheral arterial disease (PAD) has reduced circulation to your extremities, your motivation to exercise might not be very strong. Moving around might cause pain in your feet and legs, and for all intents and purposes it feels like your body is telling you to pull a full stop! In many cases, though, stopping your motion is the last thing you should be doing. It may not be the most comfortable now, but exercise can ultimately reduce your pain and raise your spirits over time.
Even if PAD has caused your arteries to narrow, any sort of exercise that gets your heart moving faster is going to improve your circulation. A heart that pumps faster means a greater volume of blood rushing through the body. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to start running marathons or doing P90X. Just adding walking or cycling into your daily activities can strengthen your heart, giving your circulation a boost.
Before starting any changes to your activity level, however, it’s important to speak with the doctors at California Foot and Ankle Institute or your general physician to ensure your plans are recommended. Also be sure to start slowly and gradually build yourself up over several weeks to the intensity you wish to achieve.
If you’re cleared for a walking program, here’s what you might expect. Start with a 5 minute warm-up by walking at a slower pace than what causes you discomfort. When ready, begin walking at a higher level for as long as you can endure the discomfort. Don’t push yourself too hard, though, and call your doctor immediately if you begin to experience dizziness, shortness of breath, or chest pains. When finished, slow your pace again and cool down for another 5 minutes.
After a month of this program, walking 3-5 times per week, you should begin to notice improvements in the time or distance you can cover before feeling that twinge of pain. This should continue to improve within the next few months, as should your overall cardiovascular health.For more advice on exercising with peripheral arterial disease, call us toll-free at (888) 796-6631. You can also call our offices directly at (949) 833-3406 for Irvine or (760) 951-2000 for Victorville.