8 Ways to Boost Your Circulation
Good circulation is important at any age and at any time of year, but especially as we get older and as we enter the colder months of the year. Many common conditions can contribute to poor circulation. Poor circulation can lead to a host of problems, such as cold hands and feet, and numbness and tingling in your hands and feet. Bad circulation can also cause problems that are more serious. Fortunately, you can take steps to improve your circulation, and avoid some of its symptoms and complications.
About Your Circulatory System
Your heart pumps 1.2 to 1.5 gallons of blood through blood vessels that extend to every part of your body. Amazingly, if you laid out all of the blood vessels in one adult human body end to end in a line, the line would stretch nearly 100,000 miles long.
There are three types of blood vessels: arteries, veins, and capillaries. Arteries deliver oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from your heart and lungs to the rest of your body. Cells and tissues use the oxygen and nutrients in this blood to perform various functions; in the process, they create waste. Veins carry these byproducts in oxygen-poor blood back up to your heart. Capillaries connect veins to arteries to complete the circulatory system.
Moving blood through arteries is generally easier, as gravity helps pull blood downward from your heart to your feet. Pumping blood upwards from your feet to your heart is much harder, as your heart has to fight gravity. Special one-way valves inside your veins trap blood in small segments within the blood vessels so that the blood does not flow backwards, or reflux, in between heartbeats.
About Poor Circulation
Poor circulation develops when constriction or obstruction in the blood vessels prevents blood from flowing freely through the artery, vein or capillary. Swelling, inflammation, and blood clotting can cause poor circulation. Tension in the connective tissue near the blood vessel is often the cause of diminished blood flow. Accumulation of fatty deposits, known as plaque, inside blood vessels can also impede blood flow to cause poor circulation.
Bad circulation can prevent oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from reaching the cells and tissues of your body; poor circulation can also prevent your bloodstream from carrying away the byproducts of cellular function. This can leave cells and tissues starving for oxygen and nutrients, and drowning in waste products. Left unaddressed, this can lead to the signs and symptoms of poor circulation.
Signs and symptoms of poor circulation include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
- Swelling in your lower legs, ankles and feet
- Cognitive dysfunction, such as poor memory and difficulty concentrating
- Digestive problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps
- Joint pain
- Muscle cramps
- Changes in skin color, particularly around the nose, lips, ears, hands and feet
- Leg ulcers
- Varicose veins
Fortunately, you can boost your circulation to prevent these signs and symptoms from developing or worsening.
8 Ways to Improve Your Circulation
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying around excess weight can put excess pressure on your circulatory system. In fact, research shows that losing weight improved circulation in overweight women.
Physical activity gets your heart pumping, which then boosts your circulation. Exercise also helps the one-way valves in your veins open and close, which prevents blood from flowing backwards into your lower legs. Jogging and other cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is especially beneficial; beginners may want to start with yoga or other low-impact exercises. Regular exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
3. Get a massage
Massage promotes blood flow by pushing blood through congested areas. Getting a massage also feels wonderful and reduces stress.
4. Drink water and other fluids
Drinking fluids helps keep your blood flowing and flushes toxins from your bloodstream. Green tea opens up your blood vessels to allow your blood to flow more freely through your blood vessels.
5. Eat oily fish
Oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that promote heart health and improve circulation. There are several types of oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. Vegetarians and vegans can get omega-3 fatty acids from kale or supplements.
6. Reduce alcohol consumption to moderate amounts
Heavy drinking can increase blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which can damage and narrow your arteries to cause poor circulation.
7. Keep iron levels balanced
Iron is essential to a healthy circulatory system. The body relies on this mineral to make hemoglobin, which is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen. Eating red meat or spinach helps the body get the iron it needs. Getting too much iron can negatively affect circulation, however, especially in people with high cholesterol and who are larger around the waistline.
8. Undergo laser therapy
Laser therapy uses the power of near infrared (NIR) laser light to boost your circulation, reduce inflammation, and resolve pain. These special lasers stimulate mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of body cells. Mitochondria produce energy by converting glucose and oxygen into ATP, which cells use for energy. Stimulating mitochondria with laser therapy increases the cell’s production of ATP, which helps reduce the pain and inflammation associated with poor circulation.
For more information about ways to boost your circulation, speak with your regular physician or vein specialist. You do not have to put up with the numbness and pain of poor circulation any longer.