September 23, 2021
We all know that sitting for extended periods of time is unhealthy. But the fact is that for many people, a day at work means remaining seated for most of the day.
When it comes to our vascular health, we know that poor blood flow can worsen the appearance of varicose veins. And although we’d like to advise everyone to take short walks every few hours, we know that isn’t always possible.
But that doesn't mean that we have to surrender to a day of no exercise! Here are a few exercises that you can do from your desk to encourage blood flow to your legs. Ideally you can make a little routine of these exercises – try to repeat them every hour or so. And as with any exercise, remember not to do anything that causes you pain.
This one can be done even in the smallest of spaces. Lift your foot off the floor and then, while holding your leg completely still, trace as wide a circle with your foot as you’re able by only moving your ankle. Do 4 circles in one direction, then another 4 circles in the opposite direction. Put your foot down and then do the same with the other foot, 4 circles in one direction and then another 4. This counts as one repetition; try to do 3 or 4 full repetitions of this exercise before stopping.
This is similar to the previous exercise, but uses an up and down movement instead of circles.
Lift your foot off the ground and hold your leg still. Next, flex your foot backwards as if you were trying to point your toes back towards your knee. Hold this flex for 2-3 seconds. Next, gently relax your foot and then flex in the opposite direction, pointing your toes away from your knee and trying to form a straight line down your leg. Again, hold this for 2-3 seconds before gently relaxing. Try to do this 10 times with each foot.
This is a good exercise that will also work your thighs, but you might find it difficult if you don’t have much space or much clearance under your desk. Extend your knee so you’re raising one foot as high off the ground as possible without lifting your thigh. If you can, try to raise your foot so that the back of your calf is parallel with the ground (again, desk space permitting). Hold this position for 5 seconds, then gently lower your foot to the floor. Repeat 5 times for each leg.
This exercise uses both feet at the same time. Sit down with both of your feet flat on the ground. Slowly push down with the balls of your feet so that you’re raising your heels up off the ground. Do this as gently and gradually as you can; it should take you 3 seconds to get your heels as high as you can raise them while keeping the front of your foot on the ground. Hold for 3 seconds then gently lower your heels again. Try doing this 10 times with both feet simultaneously.
OK, so we’re cheating a little with this one, as you can’t always do it while sitting at your desk. But squats are a great exercise for circulation, and you can do them when you take tea or toilet breaks during your day. If you’re in an open-plan office and don’t fancy exercising in front of all your colleagues, you can go into a bathroom stall for this one.
Keep your back straight and slowly bend down – the goal is to get your thighs parallel with the floor. Hold for a moment and then slowly raise yourself back up to a standing position. Try to do 10 squats every time you visit the bathroom.
While these exercises will help to keep the blood flowing during the day, the best thing you can do for your overall circulation is to try to get in a short walk immediately before and after your work day. While we know that hectic schedules don’t always allow for this, if you can incorporate 20-30 minutes of walking into your daily routine, your body (and your veins!) really will thank you.