Living with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) makes it difficult to feel motivated to exercise. However, the alternative might help give you the extra push you need to get out the door. Patients with PAD are often treated with prescription medication and invasive surgeries like angioplasty, bypasses, and others. Luckily, patients can take control of their circumstances by leading a more active life; one of the best places to start is with walking.
The Benefits of Walking
Walking is known for building strength, reducing discomfort and improving overall health. As a “bonus,” walking helps minimize risk for other serious health conditions like heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, excess weight, and high blood pressure. Dedicated walkers also enjoy more defined muscle tone, higher energy levels, a more positive attitude and better quality of life.
How to Get Started
People with PAD should find a walking program specifically geared toward people with their condition. At The Mollen Clinic, our health care staff may work with you to create a custom-tailored walking plan that addresses your symptoms and helps you reach your goals. If your provider does not create a walking plan for you, ask him or her for advice about where to begin your walking journey.
Characteristics of a Great PAD Walking Program
To experience the most progress in PAD treatment, your walking program should feature specific activities directed toward helping your condition.
- Take time to warm up with a few minutes of slow walking. Incorporate stretches, particularly for the calves and the front of the thighs. Remember: hold each position for at least fifteen seconds to get a proper stretch.
- Initial walking speed should lead to claudication (pain) after 3 to 5 minutes. It’s important to walk through the pain as long as possible to make progress.
- Resting is allowed. When pain reaches a moderately severe level, take a break and regain strength before beginning again.
- Start walking again until you reach your time goal.
- Leave time for a cool-down afterward. This period of your walk isn’t about pushing and enduring pain. Keep moving, but begin relaxing.
Start On Your Own If Necessary
Scheduling conflicts are an understandable obstacle. With a health care provider’s approval, individuals can study best walking methods for people with PAD and begin walking on their own. Sometimes coordinating with a program is inconvenient, but it shouldn’t hold a person back from going after the treatment they need.
In starting your own program, set specific goals to stay on track.
- Walk between 3 and 5 times a week.
- Set time goals. Start with 35 minutes and try to build up to 50 minutes.
- Don’t skip more than two consecutive days of walking.
- Be consistent, but also be patient.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Walk Time
To get the best results, challenging yourself is a necessary part of your walking strategy. Try to walk through pain as long as possible, take time to warm up, and push yourself to raise the intensity of your workout.
You can add extra challenges in everyday life, too. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to lunch down the street, take a routine loop around the office every few hours, or go on a leisurely walk with a spouse or a friend. Each additional walking exercise is progress!
Always Consult Your Provider First
Providers at The Mollen Clinic can help you come up with an effective walking plan to diminish the pain caused by PAD. Talking with a health care provider before beginning a program is important. Additional medical conditions can make rigorous walking dangerous for some patients, so make sure your provider approves of your endeavor first. To schedule an appointment for a vascular ultrasound call our office today at 480-656-0016. To have someone contact you, take this brief online PAD Risk Assessment.