Public Release: 

National Survey: Leg Crossing Is Taboo But Women Indulge Anyway

Creamer Dickson Basford

NEW YORK, May 24, 1999 -- Almost half (45 percent) of American women cross their legs most or nearly all the time, even though 75 percent know that it is bad for circulation, according to a national survey released today to mark the Venastat Great American Cross-OutTM.

"Leg crossing has become second nature for many women, but they should just say 'No' to the behavior as a simple first step toward keeping their legs healthy," said Luis Navarro, M.D., director of the Vein Treatment Center and surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center, both in New York City.

The survey was sponsored by Venastat, a dietary supplement for leg health marketed by Pharmaton Natural Health Products. It was released for the second annual Venastat Great American Cross-Out, which calls for women to stop crossing their legs for a single day -- Wednesday, May 26 -- as part of Leg Health Awareness Week (May 23 - 29).

Leg crossing is a matter of routine rather than manners for women, 72 percent of whom say they do it out of habit, 69 percent because it is more comfortable and 44 percent because they were taught it is polite, the survey showed. Men, on the other hand, are creatures of comfort, with 72 percent saying they cross their legs because it is more comfortable, 57 percent out of habit and 13 percent because they were taught it is polite.

"Women need to realize how pervasive this habit is and that's why we are urging them to kick off to a healthier future by joining us in the Venastat Great American Cross-Out," said Suzanne Slattery, senior product manager for Venastat at Pharmaton Natural Health Products.

In honor of participants in this year's Cross-Out, the company is donating $50,000 to Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), a national organization whose affiliates train low-income women for better-paid jobs that aren't traditionally held by women, such as plumbing, electrical wiring and carpentry. Training includes skills instruction and fitness classes to develop upper body and leg strength.

Keeping legs healthy is important at a time when more women are working in physically demanding jobs and an increasing number are returning to work after pregnancy, which is the single biggest cause of poor leg vein health. If leg health is not maintained, women may experience normal inadequate leg circulation (NIC), which involves tired legs, sensations of leg tension and leg swelling. Among the estimated one in 10 American women who experience NIC, most are over age 35.

Surprisingly simple steps can help most women maintain leg health. They include:

  • low-impact exercise such as walking

  • switching your birth control pill to a low estrogen formulation to avoid hormonal changes that can wreak havoc on vein walls (part of the reason pregnancy triggers leg problems for many women)

  • taking dietary supplements made of standardized horse chestnut seed extract, which has been clinically shown to promote leg vein circulation and help protect against leg swelling

  • avoiding crossing your legs
"Crossing your legs will really slow the flow of blood from your leg veins up to your heart, will increase the pressure inside your leg veins and will distend the veins in your lower leg and ankle," said Dr. Navarro.

The Venastat survey on leg crossing in America found that men are no different than women when it comes to acting against their own better judgment. One in five men (21 percent) says he crosses his legs most or nearly all the time, despite 45 percent knowing it may impair circulation, the survey shows.

As far as leg crossing style, most women choose to cross at the knee (51 percent) but men are equally likely to cross at the knee or at the ankles (both 31 percent), the survey showed.

In terms of body language, leg crossing speaks volumes. Most women (59 percent) and men (65 percent) say they believe leg crossing is a method of flirting for women. It also lends a touch of class, according to 51 percent of women and 71 percent of men who say it makes a woman look elegant.

Men get turned on when women cross their legs, with 70 percent saying they feel a woman looks sexy when she crosses her legs, the survey found. Women are less likely to view their leg-crossing sisters the same way, with only 47 percent saying it makes a woman look sexy.

Among persistent leg crossers, women cross their legs most often during social situations (51 percent), reading (35 percent) and watching TV (32 percent), the survey showed. For men, the most common scenarios for crossing legs are while watching TV (41 percent), relaxing at home (39 percent) and reading (37 percent).

Finally, younger women are more likely than their mothers or grandmothers to have grown up with the advice that crossing your legs is the polite way to sit. Seven out of ten young women say they were taught this compared to almost half of Baby Boomer women and only one in four older women. (70 percent for women under age 35; 43 percent for women age 35 to 55; 25 percent for women age 55 and older.)

The random telephone survey of 500 women and 500 men nationwide, age 18 and older, was conducted in March 1999 by CDB Research & Consulting, Inc., of New York City. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.


For more information on Venastat call toll-free 1-888-4-YOUR-LEGS (888-496-8753) or visit the Web site at To find out more about Wider Opportunities for Women, visit

Pharmaton Natural Health Products, of Ridgefield, CT, is committed to bringing safe, effective, standardized, clinically tested, dietary supplements to the U.S. marketplace. As a leader in the category, the company's mission is to enhance the reputation and growth of the natural health care industry as a whole. Part of that charge is to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and to self-police the industry for unfair or misleading marketing tactics. Currently, its GINKOBAR and GINSANAR brands are among the top-selling brands in the United States. Pharmaton Natural Health Products is the U.S. consumer products division of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Ridgefield, CT, is a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation (Ridgefield, CT) and a member of the Boehringer Ingelheim worldwide group of companies. Boehringer Ingelheim, headquartered in Ingelheim (Germany) ranks among the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world. It reported revenues exceeding DM 8.7 billion in 1998. The corporation has more than 140 affiliated companies and it conducts business on every continent. Its product range is focused on human pharmaceuticals - hospital, prescription and self-medication - as well as animal health.

The statements presented have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. VENASTAT is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.