We hear all about muscle health, heart health, gut health, and even mental health — but what about vein health? Our veins are the pathways used to pump blood toward our heart as part of our circulatory system, and we need healthy veins to live.
It’s not usually until we notice issues that we start making effort to keep our veins healthy. Millions of women and men in American every year are affected by varicose veins and spider veins, which can darken in color and lead to other physical symptoms. The color of healthy veins is usually not discernible through the skin.
Although family history is a risk factor, it’s never too late to start caring for healthy veins in the legs and elsewhere in the body. Develop good habits to make your veins efficient so they can transport blood back to the heart and lungs to refresh it with oxygen. With daily care and these tips for healthy veins, you may be able to avoid worsening any troubling vein conditions.
Below are seven tips for how to keep healthy veins for life.
Getting your blood pumping works out more than your muscles. It also helps your veins and the rest of your circulatory system. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting 150 minutes of exercise every week.
Of course, exercise for healthy veins may be especially challenging if you have limited mobility. You can still make a habit of integrating moderately intense aerobic activity and muscle strengthening with modifications. Don’t forget to start with a warm-up of at least five minutes stretching for flexibility.
You can try water aerobics, walking, or a chair-based exercise regime that uses resistance bands. There are chair yoga classes that can get you working up a sweat, even if you have trouble standing.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Obesity, a risk factor for many diseases including vein conditions, is something to take seriously. More than 42% of American adults are obese. Instead of following a strict diet, experts recommend eating more vegetables and whole foods while staying away from processed foods.
Try incorporating more whole grains and foods low in saturated fats. You should also steer clear of added sugars to maintain your waistline and keep your veins healthy.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water helps to maintain the balance of your bodily fluids, including keeping your blood flowing freely in your veins. Without enough water, your circulation system will struggle to deliver nutrients and oxygen where they need to go.
While it’s commonly thought that we need about eight glasses of water, it’s actually better to drink even more. Men should get about 15.5 cups a day, while women should drink 11.5 cups daily.
4. Wear Compression Socks
Venous diseases may also cause swelling, particularly in your legs and ankles. If you’re wondering how to encourage healthy veins with just a little effort, this tip is for you.
For compression socks to work as designed, it’s best to slip them on even before your feet hit the ground in the morning. These snug socks are tighter around your ankles and loosen as they move up your calf. You can buy them over the counter in most pharmacies, but vein specialists often sell them in their offices as well.
These socks can improve your blood flow instead of allowing the blood to pool around your ankles. The gradient compression of the socks offers the most pressure at your feet and ankle and then reduces pressure up the leg for better blood flow. That means more oxygen in your veins, and the support will help prevent tissue damage. Just make sure they’re not too tight or too long, or else they can cut off circulation.
5. Quit Smoking
Of the many reasons to quit smoking, vein health isn’t always the top of the list — but it’s just as important. Smoking is a major cause of peripheral vascular disease, which narrows the blood vessels and limits the flow of blood to your limbs. Smoking deprives areas like your feet and legs of oxygen, possibly forming clots that could lead to a heart attack.
If you stop smoking, your body will slowly begin to heal itself from the significant damage. What do healthy veins look like? Here’s a hint: They don’t have nicotine, which hardens and narrows arteries. The result could be deadly.
6. Take Movement Breaks
Along with exercise that makes your heart stronger, it’s also a good idea to simply get up and move at least every half-hour. Many people who develop varicose veins in their legs have made a career of being on their feet, such as working as a teacher or a cashier. Conversely, sitting at a computer all day can also cause problems for your veins.
Set a timer so that you can get up, walk around, and move throughout the day. Point and flex your toes, and massage your calves to improve your circulation. Rotate your ankles and bend your knees. If your legroom is limited, such as on a long-haul flight, wear compression socks and stretch as best you can.
7. Try “Legs up the Wall”
Elevating your feet and legs above your heart every day is another way to improve your circulation and vein health. If you have trouble getting on the floor and up again, make sure to have a chair or a friend nearby to help as you get into the yoga pose known as “Legs up the Wall.”
To start, sit on the floor next to a wall so that your hip is directly on the wall. Then, swing your legs up on the wall and move your hips as close as you can to the corner of the wall and the floor. You may want to use a folded blanket or bolster under your hips. Then, stay with your legs up for five to 10 minutes while breathing comfortably. This helps with your circulation — and a sore lower back, too.
See If Vein Treatment Is Right for You
If you already developed varicose veins, you may be experiencing cramping, itching, and other kinds of discomfort that make it difficult to complete your daily tasks. If this is the case, you should consider seeking treatment to alleviate your symptoms.
There are minimally invasive and surgical procedures that may be able to benefit you. For individualized advice on how to maintain vein health, use My Vein Treatment’s locator tool to find a vein specialist near you.