Good blood circulation is vital for optimal health. The function of the circulatory system is to circulate blood, moving it continuously through a closed system and returning to the starting point.
The blood circulatory system is how your body delivers necessary nutrients and oxygen to all the cells. The simplest way to keep your blood flowing is through movement. Today, over 80% of all US jobs are sedentary, increasing the risk of poor circulation symptoms and decreasing blood flow.
Check out these ten science-backed tips to improve blood circulation below!
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The Circulatory System
The function of your body’s circulatory system is to carry blood throughout your body. A crucial process that helps keep your organs, muscles, and tissues healthy. In addition to blood circulation to and from your vital organ, the circulatory system removes waste like carbon dioxide, waste from food and drink, and other chemical byproducts from your organs.
The circulatory system includes arteries, veins, and capillaries working with your heart and lungs. All of these parts working together help your body continuously circulate blood. Circulation can be aided or impeded by many factors, such as lifestyle, diet, stress levels, and other day-to-day factors.
Signs of Poor Circulation
Poor circulation means your body is experiencing inadequate blood flow, preventing healthy blood flow to particular areas. Signs of poor circulation and diminished blood flow are very common. Some symptoms are more severe and may cause a disruption in day-to-day activities. In contrast, others seem like a passing nuisance and nothing more.
All signs of poor circulation are warning signals letting you know you should pay attention and work to increase blood flow. Symptoms of poor circulation are not a “medical condition” but result from other factors and an indicator of other health problems.
Signs of poor blood flow and bad circulation include:
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Swelling in feet, ankles, or legs
- Cognitive issues
- Digestive problems
- Skin changes like varicose veins or blueish skin
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Ten Science-Backed Tips for Improving Circulation
1. Drink Water
Blood plasma is over 90% water; the other 10% contains dissolved substances like proteins, electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients. Your body needs water to keep blood flowing. Dehydration inhibits blood flow making circulation more difficult for your body. As a result, your body compensates with an increased heart rate attempting to maintain healthy blood pressure.
There are varying opinions about how much water you should drink every day. The general consensus is men should drink about 15 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and women should drink about 11. Drinking warm water is best for improved circulation because cold water can constrict veins.
Stretching muscles promote increased blood flow to the area of the body you are stretching. The muscle you are stretching widens, allowing more blood flow. As blood flow increases to the area, your heart starts pumping more blood.
Sedentary desk jobs can cause poor circulation in the feet and legs. Stretches that improve leg and foot circulation include downward dog, legs up-the-wall, and squats. These poses are common in yoga, along with the stress-relieving practices of breathing and mindfulness.
Among many other health benefits, walking increases blood flow and improves circulation. As you walk, your muscles contract and relax in your legs, squeezing around large veins and promoting circulation in areas that tend to be more stagnant.
Aerobic exercise of any kind is known to improve circulation. If walking isn’t your thing, try swimming, cycling, dancing, rowing, group exercise classes, or team sports.
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4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oils DHA and EPA, are known to relax blood vessels, decreasing blood pressure and improving circulation. You can increase your intake of omega-3s by eating oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, or tuna. Supplements are another option for those who do not like to eat fish. Kale also provides a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Stop Smoking
Smoking causes damage to the walls of your arteries and thickens your blood, making it difficult for blood to flow. Smoking is linked to many circulatory system health issues, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms. Studies show people who quit smoking experience improved circulation within two weeks. After one year, the risk of coronary heart disease decreases by 50%.
It’s hard to quit smoking, but it’s not impossible! Nicotine is highly addictive, and some surveys show up to 80% of smokers desire to stop. Still, only a small percentage of smokers can quit on their own. The American Lung Association, Centers for Disease Control, and your primary care physician can all offer information and support about how to quit smoking.
6. Increase Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet
Consuming more fruits and vegetables is excellent for your overall health and can be specifically helpful for improving circulation. Some of the best options for improving blood flow and circulation include pomegranates, onions, beets, tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens.
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7. Compression Socks
Compression socks are designed to improve circulation in your feet, ankles, and legs. They apply pressure against the skin, pushing blood back to your heart. There are several types of compression socks, from those available through a prescription from your doctor to non-medial socks available at many pharmacies and some retail stores.
8. Soaking in the Tub
Soaking in a warm bath can help improve circulation because the warm water helps open blood vessels allowing for better blood flow. The high temperatures in a bath can also lower blood pressure and help reduce stress. If soaking in a tub doesn’t appeal to you, a shower with alternating hot and cold water can also help improve circulation.
9. Decrease Alcohol Intake
Alcohol affects blood circulation and increases the risk of heart disease. Heavy alcohol use may cause high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease, or peripheral arterial disease. All of these health conditions are directly related to your circulatory system. Alcohol consumption is also related to increased fat around the liver which affects proper blood flow to vital organs in your body. Decreasing or eliminating alcohol use improves circulation.
10. Use a Standing Desk
Healthcare professionals recommend standing for at least two hours every day. Standing desks are an excellent option if you have a desk job that keeps you tied to your chair most of the time. Sitting for long periods of time can slow down circulation. Standing throughout the day can increase circulation, improve blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots.
Standing desks are not always available if you work on-site. Purchasing a standing desk for your at-home office is more affordable now, with budget-friendly options available through many retailers. However, some employers will provide one when asked, especially if you have a doctor’s note.
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Importance of Good Circulation
Recent CDC research shows that one in four Americans sits more than eight hours daily. An easy way to counteract a sedentary lifestyle is through exercise, but recent studies indicate more than 75% of Americans still need to get the minimum amount of recommended exercise. Desk jobs, technological advances, and car-centric communities contribute to sedentary lifestyles.
The health of every body part is affected by circulation. Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of circulatory-related diseases and health issues like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. Your circulatory system is what moves blood throughout all of our blood vessels, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your vital organs and removing waste. The waste is transported to the organs responsible for waste removal; for example, excess water in your body is filtered through your kidneys, and toxins are filtered through your liver.
Blood, oxygen, and nutrients automatically and constantly flow in your body. Lifestyle and diet can impede circulation and lead to often preventable health issues. On the other hand making intentional choices about movement, diet, and healthy habits can improve circulation and overall health.
Stress and Circulation
In addition to a sedentary lifestyle, drinking, smoking, and other lifestyle choices, elevated stress and anxiety levels can cause poor circulation. Studies show anxiety can cause changes in heart rate and blood circulation. Many of these ten tips for improving circulation are also ways to decrease stress.
Taking a hot relaxing bath, stretching with yoga, walking, or participating in regular exercise are all known stress relievers. Body massages can also improve circulation through the physical techniques used in massage therapy and as a stress-relieving practice.
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You can take intentional steps to protect your circulatory system through exercise, diet, stress relief, weight management, and managing your overall health with your healthcare provider. Other lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking or decreasing alcohol intake, can also have a significant effect on improving circulation.
Well, with most of us sitting at our desks most of the day, improving circulation is a top priority! We hope some of these tips will help you get your blood flowing! Learn more about personal growth and tips to fast-track your future by viewing other posts on our blog. To stay connected, join Goodwall by signing up via the button below!