According to Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels that are visible through the skin. They usually occur in the legs and can be quite painful and unattractive. Moderate exercise increases blood circulation, which can decrease the pain and appearance of varicose veins. It can also slow or prevent the development of new varicose veins. All exercises should be performed gently and stopped immediately if there is any pain or discomfort. It is also important to elevate and rest the legs after performing exercises for varicose veins.
Lie down on a soft surface and raise both legs straight into the air above you. Watch the color of your feet change until they lose their color and turn whitish. Sit up and lower both legs so they are below the level of your head. Watch the color return to your feet until they are normal. Lie down and rest for several minutes with your legs horizontal, and then repeat. According to Cynthia Bartlau, MSN, RN, PHN of Long Beach City College, these are called Buerger-Allen exercises.
Lie down on your back and raise both legs in the air. Extend one leg upward toward the sky while bending the other, then switch the positions of your legs simultaneously. The motion is similar to riding a bike. Make sure to straighten each leg completely upward when extending.
Lie on a soft surface or place a pillow beneath your hips. Raise one leg straight upward while bending the other leg. Pull the bent leg toward your chest with your arms while rotating your ankle in a circular motion. Switch directions often. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then switch legs and repeat.
Stand on a low step, no more than three or four inches high. Extend your heels over the edge of the step and support your weight on the balls of your feet. Slowly press upward onto your toes, and then lower your heels until they are slightly lower than the step. You should feel a slight stretch in your calf muscles. Hold onto a wall or other anchored object if you have trouble keeping balance. Perform 40 repetitions.
Go for a leisurely walk or swim. Thirty minutes of light exercise four times per week can greatly reduce symptoms of varicose veins. The key is to exercise in moderation. Lack of exercise and strenuous exercise can increase symptoms.
According to Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, you can also help prevent varicose veins by maintaining a healthy weight, not crossing your legs, and avoiding constrictive clothing and high heels.
Consult a doctor if your varicose veins become painful or inhibit your movement. There are medical treatments that can alleviate symptoms of painful varicose veins.