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Peripheral Arterial Disease and Exercise

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Exercise is heart-healthy

Being active is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. It can also help you keep peripheral arterial disease (PAD) from getting worse. Regular exercise can help you manage high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can help control PAD and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you have any symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness during exercise, report these symptoms to your doctor before continuing your exercise program.

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Exercise helps relieve intermittent claudication

Regular exercise can decrease leg pain that occurs with exercise (called intermittent claudication) in some people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Your doctor may want you to try a supervised exercise program. This program may include both walking and weight training exercises. You will work with a therapist at an exercise facility such as a rehab center. Each day you will walk until the pain starts, then rest until it goes away before continuing. Your therapist will ask you to try to walk just a little farther each day before resting. Don't try to walk through the pain. The goal is to increase the amount of time you can exercise before the pain starts.

You may start a similar walking program at home (with your doctor's approval).

Exercise helps prevent PAD

If you do not have PAD, regular exercise can reduce your risk of getting it. Exercise can help you:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Improve cholesterol levels.
  • Regulate blood sugar (important for people who have diabetes).
  • Lose weight.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 27, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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