Harvard Heart Letter

Reader to Reader

Doctors and other health care providers aren't the only experts when it comes to heart disease. People who live with cardiovascular problems every day often have excellent advice. So we're introducing a new feature, Reader to Reader, in which we share your tips on coping with heart disease. Send us your idea or solution. If we publish it, we'll add a year to your Heart Letter subscription.

WTM from Philadelphia, PA, writes: I have claudication, and the pain in my legs is so bad that I can't walk for more than half a block before I have to stop. I want to exercise, so one day I tried riding my bike. To my surprise, I was able to go for a couple miles without leg pain (except when I rode too fast). When the weather is good, I ride for 2""3 miles; when it isn't, I use a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes or so.

Dr. Mark Creager responds: Bicycling is an excellent form of exercise. Your daily rides are benefiting your heart, lungs, and the rest of your circulatory system. Whether it will help your claudication isn't known, since there haven't been controlled studies of cycling's effect on this aggravating form of leg pain. Cycling conditions mainly the thigh and buttocks. Although these muscles tend to be less affected by claudication, they do contribute to some people's leg pain.

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