Exercises to Reduce Leg Swelling

Woman walking by lake
Walking increases circulation to pump out excess fluid. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Swelling of the legs may be the result of sitting or standing for too long, crossing the legs or even medical conditions related to the heart. Speak with your doctor about any unexplained, unusual or uncomfortable swelling you may be experiencing to rule out a serious cause. Excess fluid in the legs causes leg muscles to become tight and creates discomfort and possibly pain when trying to move around. Add exercises to your daily routine to help pump out excess fluid and relieve tight muscles.

Walk It Out

Walking helps reduce leg swelling by increasing circulation to the leg muscles. This helps to push excess fluid in the legs through the blood valves and back to the heart. Incorporate walking into your daily routine by getting up every hour or two and going for a five- to 10-minute walk. Additionally, start a structured walking program of 30- to 60-minute sessions three to five times per week to improve heart health and increase leg strength.

Pump Those Ankles

Reduce leg swelling with ankle pumps, which can be done anytime whether you are standing, sitting or lying down. Ankle pumps involve moving the ankle up and down such that your toes point toward your head and then down away from you, toward the floor. This exercise contracts the calf muscle in the back of the lower leg, which aids in increasing circulation to the lower legs and shunting out excess fluid. Do this exercise three to five times per day with anywhere from 20 to 30 pumps for two to three sets in total.

Wade the Waters

Exercising in water can help decrease edema in the legs. Progressive Health states that muscle force against the water's pressure helps move excess fluid from extremities. Furthermore, the buoyancy of the water makes for a low-impact exercise that is less uncomfortable and more forgiving on swollen, painful legs. Try swimming, water aerobics or even walking in the water daily or a few times per week for 30-minute sessions.

Food For Thought

In addition to exercising to decrease leg swelling, eat a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight. According to Providence Care, St. Mary's of the Lake Hospital, excess weight can inhibit fluid from leaving the legs since it puts extra pressure on veins within the hip region. Focus on filling your plate with vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats and drink eight to 10 cups of water per day, pending individual needs and activity levels.

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