Poor circulation causes a range of discomforts, such as pooling of blood and fluid in extremities, cold feet and hands, fatigue, and achiness caused by the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles.
When healthy circulation is restored, tissues and muscles receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to heal. In addition, blood moves through your veins and arteries more efficiently.
1. Increase Physical Activity and Cardio
Aerobic exercise and cardio force the body to take in more oxygen, which is distributed to your muscles. This type of exercise gets your blood pumping more vigorously, which strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure.
A great goal to set is 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 to 7 days a week.
Also, incorporating a low-impact exercise, such as yoga, into your routine is a great way to encourage circulation. Twisting postures help send blood to your organs.
2. Elevate Your Legs
If you notice your ankles or feet swelling, try elevating your legs up against the wall. When elevated, blood flow is sent back in the opposite direction towards your heart, preventing blood from pooling in the lower limbs.
Preventing blood from pooling in the legs reduces swelling and the risk of developing a blood clot.
3. Lose Weight
Being overweight makes it more difficult for your blood to flow efficiently and puts stress on your arteries and veins. Maintaining a healthy weight improves your cardiovascular health.
4. Manage Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can lead to a condition called arteriosclerosis, which hardens your arteries and can block off blood flow. Speak with your doctor about your optimal blood pressure numbers for your health and age. On average, you want to have 120 over 80 or lower numbers.
Home blood pressure monitors are available for purchase, or look for one open at your local pharmacy.
5. Take Time to Stand Up at Your Desk
Sitting for prolonged periods is not healthy for circulation. Sitting for hours weakens your leg muscles and slows down the blood flow in the lower limbs. Slow or poor circulation increases the chances of developing blood clots.
If your job requires sitting at a desk throughout the day, try standing from time to time to help increase your blood flow. Standing up helps strengthen the valves in your veins, sending blood flow back up to your heart.
6. Stay Hydrated
Did you know that approximately 50% of your blood is water? Staying hydrated keeps your blood moving efficiently. When dehydrated, your body pulls fluids out of your blood, resulting in more viscous (thick) blood. You should aim to drink eight glasses of water a day and plan to increase your intake if temperatures or hot and if you exercise.
Massage helps circulation through manual pressure applied during the massage. The pressure helps move blood through areas that may be congested. The release of pressure causes and allows blood to flow in, bringing in nutrients and oxygen. Also, lactic acid is flushed from the muscles, improving the lymphatic system's circulation.
Massage does not just improve circulation and enhance blood flow. It lowers blood pressure and stress, improves body function, and can play a vital role in a healthier lifestyle.
8. Reduce Stress
Medical research proves that high-stress levels negatively impact blood pressure. Therefore, it is critical for your health to manage stress effectively through healthy habits such as exercise, meditation, and getting outdoors.
9. Dry Skin Brushing
Skin brushing helps move your blood along in the right direction and helps to promote lymph flow and drainage. It is also a great way to exfoliate your skin.
Most health food stores sell body brushes. Look for one with stiff, flat bristles, start at your feet, and work your way up.
10. Take a Bath
Baths are a great way to temporarily aid circulation. A warm bath causes your arteries and veins to expand and dilate, allowing blood to flow more easily.
Also, hot tea or water will have the same effect.
11. Compression Socks
Compression socks are designed to apply gentle, graduated pressure beginning at the ankle and up the leg. The pressure aims to boost blood flow back up to your heart and prevents it from pooling in your legs.
Compression socks are ideal if you have a job that requires sitting or standing for long periods.
12. Quit Smoking
If you smoke, quit. Nicotine, the active ingredient in all tobacco products, damages the walls of your arteries and causes your blood to thicken, making it difficult for blood to pass through your veins.
13. Increase Omega-3s
Omega-3 fats help increase the release of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. These fats also lower the clumping together of platelets in your blood, which reduces the risk of blood clotting.
Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
14. Follow a Healthy Diet
Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. In addition, try to limit the amount of red meat in your diet, eliminate saturated fats, and lower your sodium intake. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will help you stabilize your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, and keep you at a healthy weight.
In particular, nutrients, including Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Omega-3 Fatty acids, are all key to a healthy cardiovascular system.
15. Incorporate The Foods That Increase Blood Flow and Circulation
A variety of foods improve blood flow. Incorporating these into your diet, along with exercise, is a great way to optimize your circulation naturally:
- Fatty Fish
- Leafy Greens
- Citrus Fruits