Most people spend more than half of their day sitting — whether they are working, reading, or watching television. There’s a high chance that you’re sitting as you’re reading this. However, sitting in the same position for too long can affect your body.
According to the American Heart Association, sedentary or deskbound jobs have increased their share of the labor market to 83% since 1950.1 Currently, less than 20%1 of American employees have jobs that require any form of physical activity. If you work at an office or commute over long distances, you may be sitting for more than 15 hours each day. Sitting for such long periods can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which can affect your physical and mental health.
People with sedentary lifestyles have a 30% to 50%2 higher chance of developing high blood pressure compared to active people. Research has also shown that prolonged sitting can increase your risk of developing conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression.3 Unfortunately, exercise alone can’t reverse these effects of prolonged sitting.
Sitting continuously without moving about can also affect your blood circulation.4 This can cause vein problems, including spider veins on legs. Spider veins may be harmless and painless, but they can be unsightly and uncomfortable for some.
You can avoid the ill effects of sitting by following some simple steps. Here’s all you need to know about how prolonged sitting causes spider veins and how to prevent them.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are tiny damaged veins that can appear on your legs, feet, ankles, or face. They appear as thin lines, webs, or branches and are typically blue, red, or purple. Although they don’t hurt, they may appear unsightly and affect your appearance. People often prefer to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons.
Spider veins usually don’t have any symptoms, but some people may feel slight discomfort or burning.
Spider veins on legs may result from vein damage, causing blood to pool in tiny veins. The veins become weak and discolored and look like threads or spider webs. You’ll notice these visible veins on the surface of your legs. However, not all spider veins are caused by vein damage. They may appear due to various risk factors.
Risk Factors of Spider Veins
Spider vein risk factors include the following:
- Family history of vein problems
- Certain age and gender demographics, mainly women over 50 years old
- Obesity or extra weight
- Increased weight during pregnancy
- Other vein problems, such as varicose veins or blood clots
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty, or menopause
- Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Alcohol consumption over a long term
- Exposure to environmental irritants
- Prolonged heat or sun exposure
- Sitting or standing for extended periods
These factors increase the risk of spider veins as they can increase pressure on the legs and affect blood circulation.
How Can Sitting Cause Spider Veins?
Regularly sitting in one position for an extended duration of more than four hours can result in spider veins. When you sit in the same place, the pressure on your legs tends to build up. Your veins are already working hard to pump blood against gravity. The added pressure on your legs from sitting forces your veins to work even harder to circulate the blood back to your heart.
This can weaken or damage your veins and lead to poor blood circulation. When the blood can’t flow properly, it tends to pool in smaller blood vessels, resulting in spider veins.
Spider veins affect the appearance of your legs. Sometimes, they can be uncomfortable. You can visit a vein specialist to get spider vein treatment for cosmetic reasons.
How to Prevent Spider Veins Caused by Prolonged Sitting
The damage caused by prolonged sitting can’t be undone. But you can easily prevent it. For example, to prevent spider veins on legs, all you need to do is avoid sitting in the same position for too long. While at work, you can move or walk around every few hours to change your position. This will relieve the pressure on your legs and allow your blood to circulate normally.
If you can’t move around at work and are stuck at your desk, you can do these exercises right there:
- Pedal your legs.
- Stretch your ankles.
- Bend your knees.
- Straighten and raise your legs.
Here are some more ways you can prevent spider veins:
- Exercise and stretch your legs: Regular exercise and stretching can improve blood circulation, which can prevent spider veins.
- Incorporate activity in your daily life: Simple changes like using the stairs instead of an elevator and walking or cycling to work can help prevent spider veins.
- Maintain a healthy weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight will help reduce the pressure on your legs, keeping spider veins at bay.
- Wear gradient compression stockings: Gradient compression stockings ensure proper blood circulation and can help with spider veins.
- Elevate your legs: Raising your legs above the level of your heart helps relieve pressure and improve blood circulation.
Get Your Spider Veins Treated
If your work demands long hours of sitting and you have spider veins, you may want to get them treated to avoid further complications. My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator map can help you find a qualified vein specialist in your hometown. You can then visit the specialist of your choice and get your spider veins treated.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Sitting Disease: How a Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Heart Health.”
- New York State Department of Health: “Physical Inactivity and Cardiovascular Disease.”
- Daneshmandi H, et al (2017). “Adverse Effects of Prolonged Sitting Behavior on the General Health of Office Workers.”
- Łastowiecka-Moras E (2020). “Standing and sitting postures at work and symptoms of venous insufficiency – results from questionnaires and a Doppler ultrasound study.”