While the health effects have been debated, research shows they are minimal.
Q. Why do so many people cross their legs when they sit? Are there health consequences?
A. While some people say they find it more comfortable to cross their legs at the ankles or knees while sitting, in most cases the position is habitually chosen because of custom, etiquette or modesty.
A recent demonstration of the power of etiquette over leg position came at this year’s royal wedding in England. A majority of the adult women in the British royal family carefully choose to sit with crossed ankles or close flat feet.
The health impact of crossing the legs has been debated, but most experts dismiss it as minor. For example, blood pressure is elevated when legs are crossed at the knees, but slightly and briefly. Varicose veins result from inborn vein characteristics, not leg position.