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Step into better shape:
How to relieve achy, tired, and swollen legs

by Adava Della, associate Science & Environment editor


You may have heard these lyrics to a ZZ Top song being played in television commercials and in movies: “She’s got legs. She knows how to use them.” Sadly enough, not all women can use their legs. Because of poor vein circulation, more and more women are experiencing frequent swelling and discomfort in their legs.

Poor leg health is attributed to a myriad of factors, including a sedentary lifestyle or a job that requires one to be up on their feet all day long. Crossing your legs, for example, is harmful because it applies pressure and hampers blood from circulating to the heart. Good leg health means having strong leg muscles.

The normal aging process in women also affects leg health. Dr. Luis Navarro, director of the Vein Treatment Center in New York, explains that as women age, many experience poor circulation in the legs. A recent study by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)—a national non-profit organization that works to achieve economic independence and equality for women and girls—revealed that poor leg circulation affects nearly two-thirds of women in some kind of way. The survey respondents, who were between the ages of 45 and 65, said that poor leg health affected their ability “to exercise, shop, participate in social events, and spend time with their partners and children.”

When asked about their profession, 26 percent of the women said that the lack of good leg health made them feel less self-assured or confident about their work performance. The women even admitted to cutting down on the number of days they had to work. “They [women] and their doctors often assume that little can be done to relieve the resulting tired, heavy, swollen, and achy legs that occur as a result of poor circulation, but that is not the case,” said Dr. Navarro.

Fortunately, a health Web site for women,, has come up with a list of easy steps for women to take that will help improve vein circulation in the legs.

• Exercise daily and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

• Don’t sit or stand in the same position for a long period of time. Get up and walk around. Try shifting your weight from one leg to another every other few minutes.

• If you must stay put, try exercising your legs from where you are sitting. Start by rotating your feet at the ankles in a clockwise manner. Repeat exercise in the opposite direction. It also helps to use a foot rest that will keep your legs from dangling.

• Avoid wearing tight clothing that can cut off blood circulation.

• Consumers looking to take a dietary supplement for their leg problem should take simple precautions. David Morrison, Scientific Affairs Director of Pharmaton Natural Health Products, urges women to choose a brand that has been proven safe and effective in clinical studies. “If you can’t obtain a clinical report on the scientific extract used in the product you’re evaluating, then don’t buy the product.”




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