WellSpan Home

Peripheral Arterial Disease and Exercise

Topic Overview

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.

Exercise helps relieve intermittent claudication

Specialized exercise programs may help relieve leg pain that occurs with exercise (called intermittent claudication) in some people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If you have difficulty walking because of your symptoms, these programs may also help you walk more easily.footnote 1

Your doctor may recommend a supervised exercise program. You will work with a therapist at an exercise facility such as a rehab center. In an exercise session, you will walk until the pain starts, then rest until it goes away before continuing. Your therapist may 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). This type of program is not supervised. You get instructions and guidance from a healthcare professional. This program may be called a structured home-based exercise program.

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.

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.

References

Citations

  1. Gerhard-Herman MD, et al. (2016). 2016 AHA/ACC guideline on the management of patients with lower extremity peripheral artery disease. Circulation, published online November 13, 2016. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000471 . Accessed November 25, 2016.

Other Works Consulted

  • Conte M , et al. (2015). Society for Vascular Surgery practice guidelines for atherosclerotic occlusive disease of the lower extremities: Management of asymptomatic disease and claudication. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 61(3S): 2S–41S. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvs.2014.12.009. Accessed November 25, 2016.
  • Gerhard-Herman MD, et al. (2016). 2016 AHA/ACC guideline on the management of patients with lower extremity peripheral artery disease. Circulation, published online November 13, 2016. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000471 . Accessed November 25, 2016.
  • Watson L, et al. (2008). Exercise for intermittent claudication. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×