Best Ways to Improve Circulation
Do you experience numbness, tingling or swelling in your hands, feet or toes? Do you often have cold hands, feet, legs and ears? These are just some of the signs and symptoms of poor circulation. Now that winter is upon us and we’re less active, it’s a good idea to be more aware of when our circulation could use some improvements.
First, why is good circulation so important? Blood circulation is the constant movement of blood throughout the body made possible by our pumping heart. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to all our organs and cells.
Poor circulation impacts the entire body: brain, heart, liver, kidneys and limbs, which impedes proper functioning and creates a myriad of signs and symptoms. Left untreated, the major risks of poor circulation are heart attack and stroke.
Some of the other signs and symptoms of poor circulation (besides those mentioned in the intro) include (Source: Nativeremedies.com):
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Varicose veins, leg ulcers and foot ulcers
- Sluggish memory or memory loss
- Headaches (frequent & unexplained)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cramping in the legs, buttocks or feet during activity
- Skin discoloration
- Skin breakdowns, infections and sores do not heal as well as they should.
- Itching, especially in the hands, legs or feet
There are many medical causes of poor circulation, and we urge you to see your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these signs and symptoms on a regular basis. However, poor circulation is often boiled down to our lifestyle choices which sometimes create the medical causes in the first place.
4 Easy Ways to Improve Circulation
If you’re fairly healthy and your doc gives you the go-ahead to get your heart pumping and that blood and oxygen flowing through your system, then as certified personal trainers we suggest:
- Hydrate. This is the easiest way to improve circulation. Every cell in our body requires a certain hydration level to function well. Plasma, which makes up for more than half of the blood volume, is made of 93% water. Besides the oxygen from our lungs, blood carries the oxygen within water to all our cells and organs. Keep in mind, caffeine and alcohol have dehydrating effects so make sure to drink extra water when you have a cup of coffee or an alcoholic beverage.
- Build Muscles. Chances are you experience neck tightness, and it’s probably due to our 21st-century lives of sitting at a computer or driving for most of the day. This tightness we get from poor posture lowers circulation to our hands and cuts off the connections to the nerves (this is when we experience numbness or tingling in our hands and fingers). Counteract the negative impact on circulation to the hands from poor posture by using resistance exercises for your chest, romboids and lats. In fact all posture improving exercises are recommended! Plus, pumping weights in general also get the heart-rate up and blood pumping.
- STRETCH. Oh ya, here we go again with the stretching. In terms of circulation, it increases the blood flow to the muscles, and also throughout the body as you move through the stretches. Stretching also realigns the muscles, and misalignment decreases circulation. Specifically however, stretching your glutes and hamstrings will improve circulation to the feet. Due to gravity, our system must work harder to pump the blood up from the legs and feet back up to the heart. Any movement, including stretching, that can help ease the burden of counteracting gravity will keep our circulatory system healthy and strong. Here’s a great stretching routine for you to try.
- Cardio is NOT a 4-Letter Word. Hey, if you’re just starting out or have health issues, cardio does not have to have you huffing and puffing. You DO, however, want to get your heart-rate up and ideally, break a light sweat (a brisk walk will accomplish this). Even moderate activity on a regular basis will improve circulation. Now for everyone else, why not get that heart pumping and sweat!? You may not be so hot on the traditional forms of cardio, like jogging or the elliptical, but did you hear about the new cardio? It’s actually fun AND more effective! For instance, jumping rope (hello, childhood fun) burns more calories than a treadmill. Read more on The New Cardio.
We hope this article gave you some motivation and ideas to start improving your circulation. If you wish additional assistance with creating a health and fitness plan, and even with maintaining your commitment and enthusiasm for a healthier routine, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.
There are many other ways to improve circulation. If you have any to share, please comment!