Stepping into Success: Exercise After a Blood Clot

Updated November 2020

After experiencing a blood clot, which can appear as a pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot in the lungs, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the arms or legs, it’s important to get back into exercising. For many people, this can be a challenge.

Here are some easy exercises you can do to help you get back to your best self. (Be sure to talk to your doctor before getting started so you can determine the best exercise strategy for your particular situation.)

Beginner walking program

Try to choose a route that is close to home, relatively flat, and has plenty of places to rest along the way. For example, a local park or a shopping mall.

Warm up by walking slowly for 5 minutes.

Week 1: Walk for 5 minutes at a comfortable pace, 3‐4 times per day.

Week 2: Walk for 10 minutes, 3‐4 times per day.

Week 3: Walk for 20 minutes, 3 times per day.

Week 4: Walk for 30 minutes, 2 times per day.

Week 5: Walk for 40 minutes, once daily.

Cool down by walking slowly for 5 minutes.

Your goal is to walk for 30- 45 minutes, 5- 7 days per week.

Strength training with or without lifting weights

If you were already taking part in a strength training program, you can ease back into it. If you want to begin weight training and have never lifted weights before, it’s recommended that you seek professional advice. Ask your primary care physician for a referral to a professional who can create an individualized strength training program for you.

Preventing another blood clot

There are many reasons why someone might develop a blood clot. One of those risk factors is long periods of decreased activity, such as sitting on a plane or in a car for several hours. While there’s a very low overall risk of developing a blood clot due to long periods of sitting, periodic movement may help prevent another blood clot. For any plane or car trip longer than 4 hours, if you are safely able to do so, get up from your seat and walk for five minutes every hour or two. In addition, perform the following exercises in your seat every hour.


Sitting in a chair, move your feet up and down as in the picture. (30 repetitions per hour)


Straighten one knee, then slowly lower your foot to floor, bending your knee. Repeat on your opposite leg. (30 repetitions per hour)


Sitting in a chair, slowly lift your knee up as much as possible in a marching movement, then slowly lower it. Alternate legs. (30 repetitions per hour)

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