If your parents and grandparents had varicose veins, there is a good chance that you are at risk for them, too. While there’s nothing you can do about your genes, you can make some healthy lifestyle changes to ensure that you keep varicose veins at bay for as long as possible or at least minimize their appearance and side effects. Start with these tips:

1. Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese greatly increases your chance of developing varicose veins because of the added pressure to your lower body. If you are already overweight or obese, there’s no time like the present to start a healthier journey. If you are at a healthy weight, be sure to maintain it by eating a balanced diet.

2. Change up your wardrobe.
It may seem minor, but the way you dress can affect your veins. High heels, for example, don’t work the muscles in your calves like your flat shoes do. Also, tight clothing, underwear, and accessories like socks and pantyhose can decrease the circulation in your lower body setting you up for future problems with your veins.

3. Stand up…or sit down.
What do you do for a living? Chances are you either spend a great deal of time sitting in a chair at a desk or computer or standing up while you perform your duties. Doing one or the other for too long can wear on your circulation, so be sure to take a break at least once an hour to do the opposite.

4. Get your heart pumping.
Poor circulation and vein problems often go hand in hand. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are getting plenty of cardiovascular activity each day. If you hate the gym, don’t worry. There are so many other ways to get your blood flowing. Hike some local nature trails, walk your dog through the neighborhood, or go for a swim. Take your kids for a bike ride, turn on your favorite tunes and dance, or call up a friend for a game of tennis.

5. Relax.
Yes, you read that right. Relaxing can help keep your vein health in check. Kick back at the end of the day and prop your feet up while you watch your favorite television show. Just be sure they are higher than your heart to improve circulation. Going for a regular massage can also help keep your blood flowing. Taking time to relax can also help you reduce stress, which is important for all aspects of your health and wellbeing.

6. Stop smoking.
While varicose veins can’t be directly linked to smoking, poor circulation in your body can. Smoking also leads to high blood pressure which can cause your veins to wear down over time.

7. Get other health issues under control.
Speaking of high blood pressure, if you have it, it’s time to get it under control. Cut back on your salt intake. Eat more fruits and vegetables. If this doesn’t help, talk to your doctor about medications to control it. The same can be said for other health issues like diabetes or high cholesterol.

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