The benefits of exercise for varicose veins

Given the many health benefits of keeping fit, it’s easy to see it as a panacea for all issues. But what does it do for vein health? Here we look at the benefits and limitations of exercise for varicose veins.

How do varicose veins develop?

There are many factors in the development of varicose veins – genetics, obesity, pregnancy and standing for long periods. Over time, the one-way valves responsible for pushing blood back up towards the heart weaken. This causes blood to pool, creating swollen, bulging veins under the skin’s surface.

How exercise helps

Targeted treatments are the only way to shrink and improve the appearance of existing varicose veins. But getting your blood pumping will help prevent future varicose veins forming. Indeed, any movement that improves circulatory health will help maintain the integrity of veins.

Safe forms of exercise for varicose veins

While all exercise is good for us, some types are more beneficial than others. For those with varicose veins, the emphasis should be on the low-impact movement of the lower limbs, in particular, the calf muscles.


Walking really is a winner when it comes to exercising with varicose veins. The low-impact, rolling movement challenges joints and muscles. Speed and varied terrain build strength and improve circulation. And being such an accessible activity, it’s easy to slot into your day.


Even gentler on the joints than walking, cycling opens up new levels of challenge to those wishing to improve cardio fitness. Building calf muscle and boosting circulation helps to maintain the integrity of vein walls.

Elliptical trainer

You can’t beat a full-body workout for improving venous health. Adjustable resistance levels mean you can slowly build muscle while minimising stress on the joints or veins. Plus, exercising at home means you can fit in regular sessions around other commitments.

Other leg exercises

The beauty of the exercises below is that you can do them anywhere. Perform 15 reps of each with 30 seconds rest between each exercise. Build up to 3-4 sets per day.

Calf raises

  1. Stand up straight with legs parallel
  2. Slowly rise up onto your tiptoes
  3. Slowly lower back down


  1. Stand up straight with knees slightly bent, feet hip-width apart
  2. Slowly rise up onto tiptoes
  3. Roll back down slowly and rock back onto your heels

Toe pull-back

  1. Sitting on a chair, keeping your heels on the floor
  2. Pull your toes back towards your body

Approach with caution

It’s tempting to experiment with high-intensity forms of exercise for improving venous health. However, some activities risk further damage.

Running and jogging offer undeniable cardiovascular benefits, but the high-impact jarring motion can exacerbate existing varicose veins. Weight lifting can increase vein pressure and put a lot of stress on the lower limbs.

How we can help

Unfortunately, exercise alone won’t shrink or eradicate existing varicose veins. So, if you’re looking for pain-free legs that you’re proud to bare, what are the non-surgical treatment options?

Endothermal Ablation uses heat generated by laser or radiofrequency to close existing veins. According to NICE, this is the first line in varicose vein treatment.

Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy involves the use of an injectable foam to close off the vein. This can be used alongside Endothermal Ablation where required.

Learn more about these treatments in our article ‘Best treatments for varicose veins‘ >>

These walk-in-walk-out treatments are available at our award-winning Premier Veins treatment centres in Birmingham, Solihull, Leamington Spa and London. Our venous specialists tailor your treatment to ensure lasting results with minimal recovery time. Furthermore, all procedures come with a fixed pricing plan with no hidden fees, and a 12-month satisfaction guarantee.

To get started, click here and book your FREE mini-consultation or call 0121 769 2646 to speak to a member of our expert team today.

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