Your circulatory system constantly keeps blood flowing throughout your body. Circulation that become compromised, sometimes due to inactivity during travel or bed rest, can lead to a potentially harmful condition called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.
DVT is the occurrence of a blood clot in your body, most often in your lower leg, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Performing leg exercises while sitting can improve leg circulation while sitting and reduce your risk of developing blood clots.
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If you suspect you have a blood clot, seek immediate medical attention. If a DVT in the leg becomes dislodged, it can travel to your lungs, causing a potentially fatal condition called pulmonary embolism, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Circulation Exercises for Feet
Flexing and stretching your feet is one form of circulation exercise that keeps blood flowing freely throughout your legs while you sit or recline for long periods of time. Begin the exercise with your feet flat on the floor, as explained by the American Council on Exercise.
- Place your weight on your toes, keeping them in contact with the floor at all times.
- While your toes are touching the floor, lift your heels up.
- Hold the position for a count of three before returning your feet to the starting position.
- Next, keep your heels on the floor and point your toes up toward the sky.
- Perform 10 repetitions of each variation of the foot exercise.
Roll Your Ankles
Continue your circulation exercises with ankle rotations. While sitting in your desk chair, in the car — as a passenger only — or on an airplane, turn your ankles in small circles. Perform this leg exercise one leg at a time or both simultaneously, depending on your level of coordination.
Rotate your ankles for 30 seconds going clockwise and repeat the exercise in a counterclockwise direction for another 30 seconds.
Leg Circulation Exercises
Exercises involving your knees not only improve your circulation but also strengthen your quadriceps, the large muscle in the front of your thigh.
- Tighten your quads, bend your knee and lift your leg about 12 inches off the floor.
- Perform 20 repetitions with each leg.
- Stretch your muscles further by bringing your bent knee as far up to your chest as possible while sitting in your chair.
- Hold your knee to your chest for 15 seconds before releasing it.
Read more: What Natural Foods Help Blood to Clot?
Get Up and Walk
Leg exercises that you perform in a sitting position can promote circulation, but the stretches are not meant to be your only form of exercise. Walking is another effective way to keep your circulatory system healthy, reduce edema in your lower legs and prevent deep vein thrombosis.
Get up from your desk several times throughout the day and take a five-minute walk to stretch your legs, eliminate nerve compression pain and increase circulation. Take advantage of layovers while traveling by air and walk around the airport terminals.
Walk up and down the aisles of the plane during longer cross-country or transatlantic flights to further reduce your risk of complications.
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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.