Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: What exercises are good for vein health

Posted at 7:59 AM, Feb 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 07:19:47-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — When you think of exercise, you may think of the benefits for your heart, muscles, and bones. But exercise is also good for your vein health.

Dr. Joseph Cipriano of Lumiere Cosmetic Vein Center said exercises that help our veins push our blood back to our heart are especially beneficial.

He said the heart helps our arteries push blood forward and propel it to other parts of our bodies, but there's no such system for our veins, which bring our blood back to our heart.

“From the venous side, there's no such entity, there's no structure organ on the backside of that perfusion helping push the blood back. It's a passive process," Dr. Cipriano said.

But he said our muscles can help.

“Contraction of your calves, and making those muscles push along with those veins actually help propel that blood up. Any muscle contraction," he said.

He said exercises that engage our veins help propel the blood back to our hearts.

“We have to focus on the vessels that need the most assistance. As you can imagine, blood flow return back from our head, or scalp, or neck doesn't need as much assistance as our arms do. And ultimately, as you can then extrapolate, it's the hardest point is to return blood back from our feet and our ankles back up to our heart," Dr. Cipriano said.

He said activities like yoga, swimming, cycling and running can help with that.

Dr. Cipriano also said yoga helps your lymphatic system, which helps with immunity and fighting bacteria, flow more smoothly.

“With this, I'm starting to focus more on stretching, actually opening up the different structures that clamp down and contract on and prevent natural flow of lymphatics and venous return," he said.

He said the stretching that comes with yoga encourages the body's natural processes move along more efficiently.

“It’s going to help engage arterial function and delivery. But then as long as we're getting that muscular contraction, helping push and pump that blood back, staying active. Pushing those muscles and making them work," he said.

He said exercises and activities that involve the legs help most with vein health.

For example, he said leg press or calf raises help contract your veins.

“Bicycling, running, you do have swimming that can engage it better. And that does help encourage blood flow and return," he said.

He said the water environment with swimming is beneficial.

“There are any number of studies that show its effects. We're constantly being dragged down and pulled down by gravity. Inevitable, day in and day out," he said.

Being underwater lessens that pull, reduces the impact on your body and tissues, and encourages blood flow to help your veins propel your blood back to your heart.

“First off, your body is just flat and linear. You're not up in vertical. Gravity doesn't have its pull on you as it normally would. Number two, you're in water and it actually makes your weight actually less, obviously, by a significant amount," Dr. Cipriano said.

He said there are also exercises you need to be more cautious of if you have trouble with your veins. This doesn't mean you should avoid them all together, you just need to be sure you're using the proper technique.

For example, Dr. Cipriano said cycling is a great activity for your vein health as long as you're not over-doing it.

“Where I do see disease that can be avoided is, I've got cyclists that will bicycle for two hours, three hours, four hours. Cycling in shorter terms, in shorter episodes, is better or reasonable," he said.

He said when you start pushing past one hour and not stopping for breaks, it can cause problems.

“For all that blood now that they push down to their ankles and their feet, it has to make its way back up," he said.

He also said leaning over your bike puts a kink in the primary vessel for blood return to your heart.

“And it will inhibit the return of that blood flow. It can exacerbate and make their disease promote or progress faster," he said.

He said to also be mindful of your technique when you're weightlifting. Studies show it's extremely beneficial to bone and muscular health, but breathing is key.

“That's one of the first things that we teach with lifting techniques. You're not holding your breath when you're lifting, and as you're lifting, you exhale, you're breathing the entire time you're lifting," Dr. Cipriano said.

He said many times, people hold their breath and bear down. It's called the valsalva maneuver: when you close your windpipe so no air can exit through your nose or mouth.

“That Valsalva pushes down against our abdominal compartment, and actually encroaches down upon those vessels that are trying to come up out of our legs and actually return blood," he said. “We don't realize how much of an impact it has on that, but done over and over and over again, and we build those techniques and those bad or poor behaviors with our lifting, and it does have a significant impact.”

Your Healthy Family Vein Health