Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) affects the extremities we use most for exercise. As such, during the progression of your condition, you may avoid strenuous activity or movement due to the pain and discomfort associated with PAD. The result may have been a vicious cycle, where a sedentary lifestyle leads to putting on weight, which then makes it harder to get back into your exercise routine.
Unfortunately, many patients with PAD do not seek appropriate care, which can lead to late-stage PAD and compromise the integrity of the nerves and tissue due to lessened blood flow to the extremities. If you’re reading this, hopefully, you’ve had or are considering medical or interventional therapy to treat your PAD. But how does exercise work after treatment?
As with any new exercise routine, you need to treat yourself like an exercise newbie, no matter how much you used to exercise as a kid or in your pre-PAD life. Months or even years of a lack of exercise reduces muscle tone, making it harder and the risk of injury higher.
You may also be quite a bit older than the last time you started an exercise program. Your body has changed, and you must be aware of its limitations.
We don’t want you to injure yourself after making the critical decision to begin an exercise program. Early in your regimen, you may wish to push yourself and see faster results. But you’ll likely see significant gains even with a mild exercise program. But pushing yourself also increases the risk of injury, which can sideline you for weeks or even months and destroy your motivation.
Consistency is critical when it comes to a PAD-fighting exercise regimen. Unfortunately, there’s no simple or quick fix for PAD; ultimately, we are looking to slow or arrest its progression to a worsened stage. Being consistent with your exercise regimen is the best way to approach your post-treatment life. Consistency is often best kept by creating a schedule and sticking to it. There will be days when you don’t want to take a walk, or you don’t want to go to the gym. That’s fine. But you should still use that time to exercise, even if it is simply doing household chores. Being active and on a schedule will breed more activity as you go forward.
Enjoy the Routine
Exercise can be dull and boring; if that’s the case for you, consistency will be difficult to maintain. However, when you make exercise fun, you improve the likelihood that you’ll keep it up. Some great ways to do this are by playing team sports – once again, start slow to avoid the risk of injury, going to the gym with friends, and making sure you change up your activities regularly so that you’re not always going to the same place and doing the same thing.
Take in the Scenery
We encourage you to get out and about and see our beautiful New Jersey countryside if you have the opportunity. If you have a pet you can walk, you’ll kill two birds with one stone! Getting that fresh air walk makes exercise more manageable and more enjoyable. And you’ll probably meet new people along the way. Or maybe find some new and exciting areas to explore for your next outing. Combine two of our tips by bringing your friend along for your walk, and you’ll also have a great conversation.
Of course, any exercise regimen needs to be cleared by Dr. Farrugia to ensure that you are improving your arterial health. You must also be aware of your limits. If your friend can walk several miles, that doesn’t mean you can, even if you are the same age. Be sure to work up to new and better goals and let your medical team know what you’re doing so they can advise you on when to slow down or speed up.