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What do your legs tell about your health?

Is your feet hurting? Careful, you might need to visit a cardiologist.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : October 7, 2015 4:17 PM IST

Your legs help you be mobile walk, run, climb, skip, stand and do a host of other things. While that is their prime motive, there is a lot they convey about your health. Of course, you never thought paying attention to your legs will help you know your health status, but they are a good indicator of your overall wellbeing. Here are 10 ways in which your feet can save your life.

Here is how your legs help you to predict your health:

Skinny legs: So you love that model-like slim and sexy legs. Why not, they are attractive and should be flaunted often. But, according to the British Medical Journal a higher thigh circumference is more protective against heart diseases and premature deaths, both in men and women. So with skinny legs, you are more at risk of heart diseases. However, we are not talking about all fat over here. Just having enough muscle in your legs is essential. More the muscle you have in your legs better is the regulation of insulin and reduced inflammation. A thigh circumference of 24.4 inches is thought to be the safe range for healthy legs [1]. Here are top five exercises for killer legs.

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Stocky legs: We just told you more the muscle in your legs the better. This definitely doesn t mean fat and stocky legs are a sign of good health. In fact, if your leg circumference is beyond 29 inches it could indicate that you are at risk of liver disease. People with stocky legs have higher levels of four enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), aspartate transaminase (AST), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) all of which are indicative of liver problems, especially in women [2]. Moreover, another study published in journal Diabetes Care also showed that people with stocky, short legs have 20 percent more chances of developing type II diabetes in future [3]. Here are five foods that can help prevent liver diseases.

Swollen legs: Swollen legs are a wrong notion, what happens to you is that your feet get bulged due to various reasons. However, this isn t a sign to ignore. The reason being, swollen feet can indicate a whole gamut of issues. More common causes of swollen feet are kidney disease, coronary heart diseases, deep vein thrombosis, hypothyroidism, etc. Here are some home remedies to soothe swollen legs.

Short legs: A longer torso accompanied with short legs does not only look awkward or unappealing at times, but can be life-threatening. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that for every half inch shorter legs compared to those who have same length ratio of upper and lower bodies, chances of suffering from coronary heart diseases increases by 10 percent for every half inch. In fact, the length of your leg is related to insulin resistance and coronary heart disease risk. [4] Here are 12 signs that say your heart is in trouble.

Varicose or spider veins: Veins in your legs that appear to be bluish-green in colour and spread throughout the length of your leg are called varicose veins. Also called spider veins, they are generally shorter than varicose veins. In general, they might not be a sign of medical emergency but can be a threat to you. If the problem persists for long, it can lead to internal bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, intolerable pain and discomfort. Here are seven home remedies to conquer varicose veins.

Muscle cramps: We are not talking about PMS cramps or pain after intense exercise, but if your legs begin to fail you even after a little physical exertion like walking, climbing stairs or light exercises and if it happens often, it is a sign of concern. This could be a sign of peripheral artery diseases. If you are suffering from this condition, you might experience leg pain during such menial tasks as walking, running or climbing stairs. Usually, the pain subsides when one takes enough rest. But if it fails to go away even after rest it could mean severe PAD. Risk factors for PAD include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol among many others [5].

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[1] Heitmann, B. L., & Frederiksen, P. (2009). Thigh circumference and risk of heart disease and premature death: prospective cohort study. Bmj, 339.

[2] Fraser, A., Ebrahim, S., Smith, G. D., & Lawlor, D. A. (2008). The associations between height components (leg and trunk length) and adult levels of liver enzymes. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 62(1), 48-53.

[3] Asao, K., Kao, W. L., Baptiste-Roberts, K., Bandeen-Roche, K., Erlinger, T. P., & Brancati, F. L. (2006). Short Stature and the Risk of Adiposity, Insulin Resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes in Middle Age The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988 1994. Diabetes care, 29(7), 1632-1637.

[4] Smith, G. D., Greenwood, R., Gunnell, D., Sweetnam, P., Yarnell, J., & Elwood, P. (2001). Leg length, insulin resistance, and coronary heart disease risk: the Caerphilly Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,55(12), 867-872.


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