Everyone knows that staying active and exercising regularly are important. When most of us talk about the benefits of exercise or needing to get active, we tend to focus on things that are outwardly physical—a tighter tummy or a stronger and more toned upper body. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting a healthier appearance, the most significant benefits of an active lifestyle tend to live under the surface—for example, prevention of progressive conditions like peripheral artery disease, or PAD.
People with PAD suffer from reduced blood flow to their limbs, particularly legs, feet, and toes. The cause is fatty deposits, called plaques, which build up on the inside of blood vessel walls. PAD can lead to a whole host of problems, such as cramping, weakness, numbness, and impairment of your body’s natural healing and immune responses. This can further lead to infected wounds requiring amputation.
Damage to blood vessels that has already occurred as a result of PAD isn’t usually reversible, either, which is why it’s so important to prevent it in the first place by living a healthy lifestyle. Although people already living with the condition may benefit from a more varied and structured exercise program, the good news is that something as simple as a walking program can have profound benefits! Whether you’re managing PAD or trying to prevent it in the first place, exercise teaches your muscles how to use the oxygen they get more efficiently and effectively.
Often, a good place to start is challenging yourself to do at least 20 solid minutes of walking (with an additional 5 minutes on either end to slowly warm up and cool down) at least three times per week. If you find yourself winded or in significant pain, only do as much as you can safely manage, but be consistent and don’t skip sessions. It may take several weeks or even months, but over time you will be able to slowly increase pain-free walk time. Your ultimate goal should be 45 minutes—it may seem like a long way away, but you can get there!
A commitment to staying active can make a massive difference in your life, and it doesn’t have to be complicated! The short-term pains of exercise are a drop in the bucket compared to the life-long consequences of PAD. If you need help building a program, or have concerns about the health of your feet and legs, don’t wait for the problem to get worse before doing something about it—call the experts at Family Foot and Ankle Center today at (888) 689-3317.