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Get a Leg Up on Ugly Veins

Created: 03/31/2010
Last Updated: 02/07/2011

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If your legs are starting to look like the image on the GPS screen in your vehicle, you're not alone: about 55 percent of women in the United States have problems with noticeable spider and varicose veins.

The smaller of these types, spider veins, can appear on the face and legs, while bulging, larger varicose veins are found chiefly only on the legs. Pregnancy, menopause, excess weight, standing or sitting too much, taking birth control pills, smoking and family history can all contribute to the development of ugly—and potentially unhealthy—leg veins.

If there are swollen, reddened or warm areas near your leg veins, have them checked out by your health care provider. Likewise, consult your health care provider if you think you might have a circulation problem.

Otherwise, you may help the vein problems you have and possibly prevent new ones with these activities and exercises:

  • Walk or jog regularly. Physical activity that uses your legs, such as brisk walking, builds leg and vein strength while also improving circulation.
  • If you have a desk job, get up and move around every 30 minutes. On your feet all day? Shift your weight from one leg to the other.
  • Eat low-salt and high-fiber foods to avoid swelling and constipation, which contribute to protruding veins.
  • Try to lose excess weight gradually and keep it off.
  • Elevate your legs when resting.
  • Use air cycling exercises to increase blood circulation in your legs. Lie on your back on the floor, with your hands under your rear end. Lift your legs and pedal as if riding a bicycle. Pedal in one direction, then reverse.
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