Health care providers and fitness experts often call exercise “the wonder drug” because of its many effects on health. Exercise helps with:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Improving mood
- Boosting energy levels
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer
But one of exercise’s greatest and most immediate benefits is its impact on circulation.
As you exercise, the blood vessels in your muscles dilate, boosting blood flow. When you work out regularly, your muscles become more efficient at using blood, your heart gets stronger, and your blood vessels become more limber so blood flows more easily. This increased blood flow delivers more oxygenated blood to the working muscle.
You don’t have to be an athlete to get these benefits. Cardiologists recommend an average of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a day, which has been shown to increase life expectancy by three-and-a-half years.
While you are exercising, aim to work your heart to about 50 to 70 percent of its maximum rate. Even this fairly conservative amount of exercise is powerful enough to combat other high-risk factors.
Read on to discover 3 ways exercise can help better your blood flow.
Walk Away from Circulatory Problems
Walking is one of the most popular ways to exercise. It’s also an excellent way to improve circulation.
What’s more, walking doesn’t require any special equipment and carries the least risk of injury of any form of exercise. Best of all, you can do it anywhere, whether you live in the city, the country, or somewhere in between.
If you’re not used to exercising, start slowly, limiting yourself to a 10-minute walk. As your stamina increase, you should be able to increase your walking time to 45 minutes or more.
Studies show that your risk of coronary artery disease drops by 65% when you engage in a brisk walk three or more hours per week.
Try Aerobics for Better Circulation
Aerobic exercise develops the heart muscle much the way weight training develops other muscles. The heart grows thicker and stronger while the inside of the heart grows bigger, allowing more blood to be pumped with each heartbeat. Aerobic activity also improves the condition of your blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide.
A study presented at the 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress reported that older diabetics could improve artery health by an impressive 15 to 20 percent in just three month with aerobic exercise.
Here’s how: When you exercise, you force more blood through your blood vessels. This elevated blood flow stresses the walls of the vessels as it passes over them, reducing inflammation in a way similar to high doses of steroids.
Lift Weights for a Healthier Circulatory System
As wonderful as aerobic exercise is for the circulatory system, it should be balanced by resistance training, most commonly known as weight lifting.
Resistance training improves the muscles and nerve pathways that direct and control movement. Over the last decade, it has become clear that weight training decreases heart rate, reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol profiles, fortifies the elasticity of arteries, and increases cardiorespiratory fitness.
Many health clubs, colleges, and recreation centers are equipped with both free weights and weight machines. But before you begin, make sure you get instruction on the proper way to use the equipment. Although committing to a regular weight-training routine–at least three times a week–may require a bit of willpower, you’ll be rewarded with a stronger, leaner body and a healthier circulatory system.
When practiced vigorously for half an hour, these activities can be fun and heart-healthy. Try any of the following exercises to get your heart-rate pumping and your blood flowing! And get your family or friends to go with you – working out together improves your motivation to keep it going!
Remember, your circulatory system is only as healthy as the arteries that carry blood throughout your body. Keep your arteries flexible, strong and healthy by following the above guidelines and exercising regularly!
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.