Why Are You Sedentary?
There are many reasons you may find yourself living a sedentary life. Like so many, the events of the past year to 18 months led to a change in our daily habits. After enjoying an active lifestyle for most of your life, the stress of family, friends or career influenced your lifestyle. If you are ashamed or blaming yourself, we are here to encourage you.
No matter the ‘why’ for your lifestyle, you have options to improve your health and quality of life, slow disease progression and even reverse the damage done to your health.
How Does A Sedentary Lifestyle Impact Vein Health and Circulation?
The bottom line is that your lack of movement slows your venous blood circulation, creating a domino effect leading to:
- Pooling blood in the leg veins
- Bulging varicose veins and unsightly spider veins
- Leg pain, heaviness, aching, tired legs, night cramps and restless leg syndrome
- Leg swelling and skin changes
- Blood clots in the legs: deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or superficial vein thrombosis (SVT)
- Potentially life threatening: Pulmonary embolism (PE), when a DVT or SVT break free and travels to the lungs
How does sitting around do all of this? Vein problems can be traced back to a problem with the vein valves, pipes or pumps.
To understand the risk, it is important to have a basic knowledge of the venous system. Your ‘one way’ vein check valves allow the blood to travel up the veins and prevent it from falling back down under the effect of gravity. The pipes are the ‘tube like’ veins that carry the blood back toward the heart. The calf muscles are the “pump’ or heart of the venous system. Anything that affects the valves, pipes or pump can lead to vein problems.
- Inactivity directly impacts the venous blood return, leading to a cascade of problems. As your calf muscles contract, they propel the venous blood from your feet and legs to the heart. When you are sedentary, your calf muscles aren’t doing their job and your venous blood flow slows.
- As your venous blood flow slows, the veins dilate. This overwhelms the one way check valves, leading to ‘reflux’ or pooling of blood in the leg veins. Reflux over time causes the signs and symptoms of vein disease noted above.
- As the blood flow slows the risk of a DVT or SVT increases. If a clot develops, the venous flow is further impeded with associated leg pain and swelling. If the clot is not diagnosed and treated, the situation can worsen leading to a life threatening PE requiring immediate, emergency medical intervention.
- It is easy to see how a sedentary lifestyle can lead to worsening vein disease and further decrease in your activity. After all, if your legs hurt, you likely won’t want to use them, and if you’re in the hospital, you’re stuck in bed.
So what can you do about it? With the help of your vein specialists, you can make impactful lifestyle changes to improve your health and quality of life.