How To Exercise Safely with Varicose Veins

Woman doing yoga pose on the beach

Share this post

If you’ve got varicose veins, chances are good that you are skipping out on your exercises for fear that you’ll make your already painful veins feel much worse.

However, cutting exercise out of your life is something you don’t want to do. Incorporating some form of exercise into your daily life is crucial to not only your vein health but also your cardiovascular health and your entire body’s health overall.

Even something as simple as walking boasts some seriously incredible benefits. So don’t let varicose veins keep you from getting that daily health boost you need.

Here are the best exercises to do that will work with your varicose veins, not against them, and help you keep your health on track.

Exercising With Varicose Veins

Did you know that one of the leading causes of varicose veins is prolonged periods of sitting or standing?

The pressure and stress that sitting or standing for too long puts on your veins are detrimental to anyone, especially someone who is already prone to vein diseases.

Thankfully, exercise improves the circulation in your body, thus helping those who suffer from varicose veins, and also helping reduce the chances that you’ll get varicose veins in the first place.

(Please note that exercising does not mean you won’t get varicose veins, or that you’ll get rid of them by exercising — there are a number of other factors that contribute to the development of varicose veins including genetics and pregnancy.)

Exercise #1: Walking

The benefits of walking are seemingly endless. According to myfitnesspal, walking:

  • Improves sleep
  • Improves blood glucose levels
  • Strengthens your memory
  • Lowers risk of tripping and falling
  • Elevates your mood
  • Boosts blood circulation
  • Strengthens your bones
  • Increases brain sharpness
  • Lowers pain of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and more
  • Boosts your immunity

There are many more benefits, and honestly no disadvantages to lacing up those shoes and walking.

Walking is especially good for people who suffer from varicose veins, due to the fact that walking is a very low-impact workout. There is no jarring or pounding of your legs — just a simple movement that helps strengthen your calf muscles without straining your body.

By strengthening your calf muscles, you are aiding in circulation, which is only beneficial to those with varicose veins.

Aim to walk for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. If you can speed up your walking pace, that is great too. Brisk walking raises your heart rate without being risky and helps you burn more calories.

For more helpful exercise tips like this, book a consultation to meet with one of our vein specialists.
Schedule your consultation today

Exercise #2: Biking or Elliptical

Hopping on a bike or an elliptical is another great option for varicose vein sufferers. These exercise machines are low-impact like walking is, and aid even more in building your calf muscles that help with the blood flow through your legs, as well as the rest of your body.

These exercises can be enjoyed without the risk of placing additional stress on your body.

Exercise #3: Other Leg Exercises

These leg exercises are easy ones you can do at home that don’t require any equipment.

You can start slowly with the below, doing just a few reps at a time, and watch as you’re able to build up your strength and increase the number of reps.

Bicycle Legs

For this exercise, it will be almost like you’re riding a bicycle while lying on the floor.

  1. Lay down on your back on a mat or the floor, and raise your legs in the air, bending them at the knee to make a 90-degree angle
  2. Slowly kick your right leg out, while keeping your left leg bent
  3. Return your right leg to the starting position and switch
  4. Keep this fluid motion going

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can incorporate your arms (and your abdominals) to take this workout one step further. Simply crunch up and tap your right elbow to your bent left knee, then switch arms as you switch your legs. Opposite knee to opposite elbow.

Kneeling Leg Lifts

This is another workout you can do at home while you’re watching TV and requires no equipment.

  • Get down on all fours
  • Lift one leg up and extend outward, making an ‘L’ shape
  • Hold for a few seconds
  • Lower and repeat
  • Do 10 times on each leg, rest, and do another round

Calf Raises

As mentioned above, building the strength of your calf muscles aids a great deal in improving your body’s blood circulation, and calf raises are a fabulous way to do that.

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

Do this for as many reps as you feel comfortable.

Thigh Raises

This is something you can do while watching TV or hanging around the house. All you need is a chair.

  • Sit down in the chair
  • Stand up
  • Repeat 10-15 times, rest and do another round

Side Leg Lifts

  1. Lay on your right side, legs stacked on top of each other
  2. Slowly lift your left leg up in the air, hold for a moment, and bring back down
  3. Do this a number of times, and then switch to the other side.
  4. Lay on your left side, and again, stack your legs
  5. Slowly lift your right leg, hold, and bring back down

This exercise works not only your legs but also your obliques — a nice two-for-one deal.

Ankle Rolls

If you’re stuck sitting for a large part of the day, don’t worry — you can still get some exercises in that will help your circulation. Here’s a great one to do at your desk.

  • Keep your heels on the ground but lift the rest of your feet
  • Roll your feet clockwise for 15 seconds
  • Roll your feet counterclockwise for 15 seconds
  • Rest and do another round


Similar to the calf raises with one extra step, this workout will also double in helping your balance.

  1. Stand up straight with your heels together, toes pointed out
  2. Rise up on your tiptoes
  3. Slowly lower back down
  4. Rock back to your heels, toes off the ground
  5. Return to start, and repeat

Toe Pull-Back

Sit in a chair to do this quick and easy exercise.

  • Keep the heel on the floor and pull your toes back towards your body
  • Do this 15 times, rest, and do another round

Exercises to Be Cautious About (Or Stay Away From Altogether)

Depending on the severity of your varicose veins, it is better to err on the safe side and refrain from doing the following exercises.


Though running boasts some incredible cardiovascular benefits, along with the fact that it really gets your blood pumping and circulation on high, running can wreak serious havoc on those who have varicose veins.

Running puts a great deal of strain and pressure on your legs as they constantly pound on the treadmill or ground.

However, if your vein issues are not extreme and you really feel the need to run, you can opt for a slow jog on grass or another soft surface that helps cut back on the negative effects of high-impact treadmill or concrete running.


Weightlifting has risen to the top of the exercise scene recently as a popular workout that offers great benefits. Some of those, according to Greatist include:

  • Boosts metabolism
  • Prevents injury
  • Increases bone strength
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Produces results quicker than other exercises
  • Increases productivity
  • And many more

However, if you have vein issues such as varicose veins, weightlifting may bring you the above benefits, but with some pretty major setbacks.

Weightlifting is a strenuous exercise that puts a lot of stress on your veins’ circulation, and can even cause your vein issues to get worse.

If you feel that you just can’t survive without weightlifting, then ensure that you have proper form, and adjust your regular routine for a more vein-problem-friendly one.

Here are three major things to do if you weightlift with varicose veins:

  1. Swap out the heavyweights for lighter ones
  2. Don’t forget to exhale as you lift
  3. Immediately after lifting, walk or ride a bike to get your blood flowing and circulation going again
  4. Wear compression socks during and after lifting

Vein Specialists Can Help With Safe Exercise Routines

As you can see, exercising with varicose veins is not only possible, in most cases, it is going to benefit you and your vein issues.

By carefully choosing your workouts and not pushing yourself too far, you will feel the incredible benefits of exercising.

However, before embarking on any workout regimens, be sure to consult with your vein specialist to ensure you won’t end up causing additional damage to your veins.

Interested in reading more about how exercise can help with your vein health? Explore our collection of exercise topics.

Learn about all minimally-invasive vein treatment options.

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Satish Vayuvegula
Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is the National Medical Director at Vein Clinics of America. Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is recognized as a physician who has met rigorous standards of knowledge and extensive training in phlebology, the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related disorders. Dr. Satish also shares his passion and expertise by serving as a board member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, the predominant national organization for venous and lymphatic disease.

Say goodbye to painful varicose & spider veins

Have a Vein Clinics of America network physician examine your legs and recommend a treatment program customized to your specific condition.

Schedule your consultation now

Over 50 locations in 14 states

See map of all clinics