People prone to arterial occlusive disease (AOD) in the legs would do well to exercise regularly on a treadmill, according to Norbert Smetak, chairman of the German Society of Cardiologists in Private Practice. The workouts can help prevent shrinkage of calf muscles and loss of mobility, he said.

The smaller the calf muscles, the greater the likelihood that a circulatory disorder in the legs will cause problems when climbing stairs or walking, Smetak pointed out. Legs that ache after just a few minutes of walking are a symptom of impaired circulation. Skin that appears pale or feels cool to the touch are further symptoms.

At worst, Smetak said, poor circulation can lead to a sudden occlusion, or blockage, in arm or leg arteries, resulting in severe cramping pain. Particularly susceptible to arterial occlusion are smokers, diabetics and people with high cholesterol levels or hypertension. They are at greater risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Besides plenty of exercise, measures which help to prevent AOD include a diet low in fat and cholesterol, abstention from alcohol and cigarettes, and not being overweight.