This month, we’re partnering with ConsumerSafety.org to bring awareness to DVT and explore why you should get moving in March.
Last month, we celebrated American Heart Month, but there’s another condition that doesn’t often make the major headlines. March is DVT Awareness Month, which is dedicated to providing education on Deep-Vein Thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the body. DVT can also cause potentially fatal complications, like a pulmonary embolism, because there is a likelihood that a piece of the clot could break off and travel to the body’s major organs, particularly the lungs.
The threat of DVT raises with age and obesity, so it is essential that we understand this condition for ourselves, as well as our students who may be older or overweight.
A Sedentary Lifestyle is a Major Risk Factor
DVT can affect anyone, but a sedentary lifestyle puts you at an especially increased risk of this dangerous condition. If you spend prolonged periods of time sitting, such as while working an office job or while binge-watching your favorite TV show, you may experience slow and sluggish blood flow throughout the body due to this inactivity. Without proper circulation, your blood has the increased chance of clotting and spurring on DVT.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is also linked to weight gain and obesity, another risk factor for DVT. Excess belly fat in particular makes it difficult for blood to move to your lower extremities, thus creating the potential for clots to form.
Of course, regular Spinning® classes are a great way to combat a sedentary lifestyle. But for those times when you can’t make it to your local studio, there are some ways to regularly incorporate activity in daily life.
Lower Your Risk Through Regular Movement
Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t the only reason for wanting to live an active lifestyle. It also can lower your risk for a variety of health conditions, including DVT and heart disease. Suggested activities to help prevent DVT include:
- Move regularly every 1 to 2 hours.
- This will help increase blood flow to prevent the formation of clots and can even help you live longer.
- Do leg stretches and exercises while seated. Here are some examples:
- Ankle Circles – Lift each foot off the floor and make a circular motion with your ankle for 10 rotations. Repeat with the other leg.
- Single Knee Hug – While seated at a desk or even in an airplane seat while flying, raise one knee up to your chest as far as you can and hold for 15 seconds.
- Add aerobic exercise like Spinning® to your schedule.
- Joining a Spinning® class or taking part in any other aerobic activity at your gym will get your blood pumping and lower your risk of DVT.
What to Do if You Get DVT
Sometimes, risk factors like a blood clotting disorder can spur on DVT even if you’re a very active individual. Pay attention to any symptoms and consult your doctor if you experience swelling and pain in the leg along a vein, persistent cramping in your calves, or red and discolored skin along the leg. If you do suffer a deep-vein blood clot, there are different treatment options available.
- Blood thinners/anticoagulants are the most commonly prescribed treatment method for DVT since they thin the blood to prevent existing clots from growing larger and new ones from forming. All anticoagulants come with the risk of serious complications however, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each one to decide which is right for you. Blood thinners also require certain lifestyle changes depending on your choice. One option requires you to change your diet to avoid foods high in Vitamin K, such as kale has no antidote and may require certain activities to be avoided such as contact sports or hobbies that could lead to falls and other injuries.
- Wear compression socks or stockings to promote blood flow to your lower extremities. These may be prescribed in addition to blood thinners and should be worn when sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as while traveling or working in an office.
This March, make it a priority to get up and get moving. Whether you decide to attend a new workout class or simply put in the effort to walk more often throughout the day, any increase in activity can lower your risk of the potentially fatal condition. Remember that DVTs don’t discriminate, and living an active lifestyle is an easy way to do your overall health a massive favor!
Please share this information with your students and fellow instructors. And be sure to mention your tips to get and stay active in the comments below!