Sitting is the New Smoking: How Your Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Your Health And What You Can Do About It

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You know how you feel when confined due to illness or the unforeseen events like the one we experienced in 2020? Your body works best when you are active. Today we want to encourage you to make a change for the better.

Movement is essential and many conditions are a direct result of a sedentary lifestyle. You may gain weight, tire easily and have unexplained aches and pains. Or worse, you may develop one more chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular and venous disease ranging from moderate, to severe or even life threatening.

To determine how to help, let’s explore reasons why you or others may be sedentary.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


It’s just 3 easy steps…

Vein Specialists of the South Macon


Vein Specialists of the South Macon


Vein Specialists of the South Macon





Sedentary Lifestyle, Meet Better Veins for Life®

At Vein Specialists of the South, our goal is to improve your vein health and quality of life. We always encourage lifestyle changes to improve your vein health. When necessary we recommend procedures to treat the underlying cause of your vein problems.

Our Better Veins for Life® Principles  are the heart of your conservative care. You can start them right now, even before your first appointment with your vein specialists.

  1. Compression: Wearing high-quality, medical graduated compression hose, socks, leggings, or sleeves improves venous circulation, even when you’re sitting or standing still for long periods of time. The best part is these aren’t your grandmother’s compression socks; there are fashionable options for everyday wear, business attire, and exercising.
  2. Exercise: Taking daily walks, riding a bicycle, or just flexing your calf muscles throughout the day will improve your vein health. Start slow, develop healthy fitness habits, and you’ll see gradual improvements to your leg health.
  3. Leg Elevation: For 30-minutes per day, elevate your feet above your heart. You can do this by propping your legs up comfortably on a pillow or straight up the wall. This helps relieve swelling and assists blood flow from the feet back to the heart.
  4. Sensible Footwear: Ditch the high heels for a while and opt instead for fashionable flats. Heels limit the ‘calf pump’ and venous blood return, which can lead to spider veins and varicose veins. Once you’ve made significant progress with your vein health, you may want to go back to heels in moderation. Dr. Harper likes to say, “Save your high heels for special occasions!”
  5. Weight Management: If you’re overweight or obese, it’s very important to lose weight. The pressure of the extra weight on your veins impacts your blood flow, the one way check valves and vein walls. If diet and exercise are not giving you the results you want, speak with your doctor, as difficulty losing weight can be caused by chronic health conditions and/or medications.

man on a bicycle

When To Seek Care From a Vein Specialist?

If you suspect you have venous disease, or you have a family history of varicose veins and blood clots, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a vein specialist. Book an appointment with your doctor or request a referral to a vein specialist if you experience:

  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Spider veins on the ankles or legs
  • Unexplained leg pain, heaviness, or fatigue
  • Visible or bulging varicose veins
  • Blood clots: DVT, SVT or PE

Additionally, even if you don’t have any noticeable symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek an evaluation if you are considered high risk for developing venous disease. Risk factors include:

  • Age 65+
  • Family history of venous disease, including blood clots
  • Hormonal birth control use
  • Long periods of sitting or standing still
  • Recent bed rest due to injury, illness, surgery, or high-risk pregnancy
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Weight gain
Vein Specialists of the South Macon


*Individual Results May Vary

Vein Specialists of the South Macon

Vein Specialists of the South is Here to Help

For over 25 years, Vein Specialists of the South has helped patients in Georgia and the Southeast improve their vein health and quality of life with our combination of conservative care Better Veins for Life® principles and our minimally invasive Walk In, Walk Out™ procedures to treat and remove diseased veins with little to no downtime.

We offer three convenient office locations in Downtown Macon, Warner Robins, and our new South Atlanta location at Locust Grove, Georgia. If you can’t make an in office consultation we have telehealth and Virtual Vein consults.

We happily work around your busy schedule, and our staff is available to assist you with questions about insurance and financing options to help you achieve the best vein care.

We care about our communities, and our team members often volunteer with local organizations and community leaders to improve the lives of our neighbors and friends. Let us be there for you. Give us a call and start your journey to Better Veins for Life® today.

More To Explore


Choose Your Location

Macon: 478-743-2472

Warner Robins: 478-743-2472

Locust Grove: 470-880-8346

Are embarrassing Varicose Veins keeping you from wearing shorts?

  • Understand the underlying cause of varicose veins.
  • Determine if your unsightly varicose veins could be more than a cosmetic concern.
  • Learn what to expect at your vein evaluation.
  • Choose the best treatment options to meet your needs.

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