Veins are blood vessels that carry impure blood back to the heart to be pumped into the lungs for purification. This process occurs against gravity which requires the veins to be strong enough to push the blood. Veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing in the reverse direction (away from the heart). When these valves are not able to close properly, blood flows backward and causes the veins to become wide and tortuous. This situation is seen especially in the veins of the legs and this condition is known as varicose veins. Other than causing cosmetic problems, varicose veins are often painful, particularly when standing or walking. Furthermore, the area around varicose veins is more prone to ulcer formation.1
A regular exercise and fitness program may be an effective way to both prevent the occurrence of such conditions and also to treat them.1 Activities such as walking and jogging have direct effects on improving blood circulation in the legs by means of enhancing the pumping action of the muscles. This fitness activity increases the blood circulation in the area to bring more fresh blood and removes the impure blood. As a result, proper circulation helps to prevent development of varicose veins.1
In addition, exercise helps to push stagnant blood from the bottom of the legs back to the heart. During fitness exercises, the calf muscles alternately contract and relax, thus squeezing blood back toward the heart. Therefore, fitness activities such as walking, running, cycling, skating and dancing are ideal in the treatment and prevention of varicose veins, whereas prolonged standing tends to increase blood pooling and to widen the veins.
- Jones RH, Carek PJ. Management of Varicose Veins. Am. Fam. Physician. 2008; 78(11): 1289–1294.