• Walking: Excellent “Medicine” for P.A.D.

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    Walking can be excellent “medicine” for reducing leg pain and cramps for many people with P.A.D. Studies have shown that a structured walking program can often work better than medicine or surgery in helping people with P.A.D. walk longer and further without having to stop due to pain. 

    The benefits of a walking program are numerous. Regular walking helps you stay active, reduce stress, control risk factors like high blood glucose, high blood pressurehigh cholesterol and excess weight, tone your muscles and lower your risk of heart attack or stroke

    How to Get Moving

    Ask your health care provider about a walking or treadmill program designed for you. He or she may help you design a program that is right for you or direct you to a local hospital or a cardiac rehabilitation center for guidance.

    Whether you’re part of a guided walking program or you’ve decided to begin your own, the following guidelines may be helpful: 

    Walk at least three to five times a week. Begin each walk by walking slowly for several minutes and take a few minutes to gently stretch the thigh and calf muscles in your legs. Walking may hurt at first – and that’s good. In fact, the goal is to walk at a pace that causes mild or moderate pain or tightness in your legs within three to five minutes. On a scale of 1 (least) to 5 (highest), mild or moderate pain would be 3 or 4. When you reach this level of pain, stop to rest. 

    Repeat several times: Walk at a pace that causes mild or moderate leg pain, then rest. 

    To end your walking session, walk slowly for the last five minutes. Take another minute or two to gently stretch your leg muscles. 

    Over time, you will be able to walk longer with less pain. It may take months, so be patient with yourself.

    Aim at first to build up to 35 minutes of total walking time (not including resting time).

    Once you’re achieved 35 minutes, re-set your goal to achieve 50 minutes of walking. Try to add five minutes each week until you can walk 50 minutes during each of three to five sessions a week. 

    Once you achieve the 50-minute goal, challenge yourself to work harder, perhaps walking up a hill or the stairs, or adjusting the treadmill’s incline. When your schedule doesn’t allow walking the full 50 minutes, try to work in several shorter sessions during the day. 

    Stick with it! Be patient with yourself even if you feel you’re not improving. And don’t make a habit of letting other things take priority over your walking program. Instead, make walking your top priority.