Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects about 8.5 million Americans. It occurs when cholesterol builds up in blood vessels in the legs, slowing or blocking the flow of blood.
Symptoms include pain or cramping when walking, loss of muscle mass, skin that’s cool to the touch, and sores or ulcers that are slow to heal. Regular physical activity and supervised exercise programs are key treatments for PAD.
The authors of one study suggest that soaking in hot water followed by light exercise may benefit PAD as much as a longer exercise session.
Researchers compared blood pressure and walking distance in two groups, each with 11 PAD patients. One group did up to 90 minutes of walking and resistance training once or twice a week. The other group soaked in a pool with warm water for 20 to 30 minutes and then did up to 30 minutes of calisthenics three to five times a week.
“There was no evident difference between heat therapy via spa bathing and a supervised exercise program,” wrote Ashley Akerman and colleagues from the University of Otago and Dunedin Public Hospital in New Zealand.
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