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Best Exercises/Activities For Peripheral Artery Disease

Supervised exercises bring in greater benefits than medications and are often recommended as the first line of treatment for PAD.(1)

Walking, stair-stepping, calf raises, bicycle exercises are the best exercises for Peripheral Artery disease.(2)(3)

Certain yoga exercises improve the mobility levels and minimize symptoms in patients with PAD.(4)

Peripheral Artery disease also called PAD has affected approximately ten million Americans, 10 percent of which is 16 years and above. The primary symptoms of PAD are intermittent claudication and pain in the legs requiring surgery in the worst cases.

Discomfort in calf muscles and upper legs is a typical sign of blocked arteries, however, this is not only a problem of cardiovascular disease rather can be an associated condition of PAD. Weight-bearing exercises improve symptoms in PAD and relieve cardiovascular stress.

Best Exercises/Activities For Peripheral Artery Disease

People with lower extremity peripheral artery disease lead to poor quality of life because of the immobility problems. Although medications can help ease the symptoms, supervised exercises bring in greater benefits than medications and are often recommended as the first line of treatment for peripheral artery disease.

The downside of supervised exercise is, it is not covered under health insurance hence most Americans cannot afford this expensive mode of therapy. Also, many patients don’t want to go to the exercise center several times a week to undergo this highly effective treatment. On the contrary, home-based walking is an inexpensive and convenient alternative to your problems with peripheral artery disease.1

Many people with peripheral artery disease are not well-informed about their condition despite it being common. This eventually results in increased heart attack, stroke, amputation, and untimely morbidity. Therefore, proper diagnosis and appropriate exercise therapy can improve physical activity and quality of life.

Most exercises are structured and aimed to revascularize patients with claudication.

Walking – The first line of treatment generally suggests walking of minimum three times a week over three months. Peripheral artery disease patients should aim to work out 30 to 60 minutes walking every session. This can incorporate strength and balance activities such as gym, bowling, and weightlifting.

Stair Stepping – Stair stepping is a low impact weight-bearing cardiovascular activity found to be very effective in improving symptoms with peripheral artery disease. This can be easily done at home with no need for supervision. If you are not comfortable doing this exercise, you can still modify stair-stepping with the use of a handrail or assistance of a spotter to limit the amount of stress placed upon your feet.

Calf Raises – This is a classical calf strengthening exercise to build your calf muscles at home. They improve good dynamic blood flow and preventing peripheral artery disease-related complications. Building up your interval walking slowly along with calf raises are your best bets for reducing the risk of suffering peripheral artery disease complications.

Bicycle Exercises- A study was conducted on patients with peripheral artery disease and they were monitored for supervised bicycle exercises. Near-infrared spectroscopy was also performed to analyze the saturation levels. Researchers gathered data on these patients before and after the supervised bicycle exercise program. The study demonstrated that there was a significant difference in their quality of life with improved hip movements. This eventually proved that bicycling is helpful in patients with PAD.2,3

Yoga for Peripheral artery disease

People with lower extremity peripheral artery disease suffer muscle cramps in their legs every time they walk. Investigations propose a six-week yoga program is expected to increase significantly their quality of life.

Certain yoga exercises improve mobility levels and minimize symptoms in patients with peripheral artery disease. These exercises bring in more oxygen and blood flow to your limbs and muscles. Also, they can reduce the plaque formation that is causing clogs in the arteries.4


  1. “The Best Workout to Manage Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease – Penn Medicine.” – Penn Medicine, www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2016/february/the-best-workout-to-manage-symptoms-of-peripheral-artery-disease
  2. “The Best Exercise For Peripheral Artery Disease.” Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, www.ornish.com/zine/the-best-exercise-for-peripheral-artery-disease/
  3. “Yoga to Improve Physical Function and Maximal Walking Distance Among Patients With Peripheral Arterial Disease – Full Text View.” Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov, clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02007525
  4. “Yoga and Peripheral Artery Disease.” Yoga and Peripheral Artery Disease | Frankel Cardiovascular Center | Michigan Medicine, 16 Sept. 2013, www.umcvc.org/node/685321

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 4, 2020

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