Good circulation is vital to your health, but we’re guessing it’s probably something you don’t spend too much time thinking about. But for those who suffer from the symptoms of reduced blood flow, like tingling, numbness, and throbbing, circulation is something they think about every day.
In this blog, we will discuss why circulation is important and we’ll also go over some easy ways to boost your blood flow.
Why Circulation is Important
The circulatory system is a vast network of organs and blood vessels that act both as a delivery and a waste removal system for the body. Nutrients, oxygen, and hormones are delivered to your cells and waste, such as carbon dioxide, are removed. Not only does the circulatory system keep our cells healthy, it also keeps you alive. The heart constantly receives signals from the rest of the body that tell it how hard it needs to pump to properly supply the body with oxygen-rich blood. For example, when you’re asleep, the body sends electrical signals to the heart that tell it to slow down. Conversely, when participating in heavy exercise, the heart receives the message to pump harder to deliver extra oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.
When you have poor circulation, your blood isn’t efficiently flowing through your body. This can lead to a variety of issues, including numbness (e.g., your hands/feet falling asleep). While occasional numbness isn’t life threatening, if your circulation is chronically poor, you are likely facing more serious problems like swelling or fatigue. If this sounds familiar, there are a few things you can do to improve your circulation.
How to Improve Circulation
Exercise. If you are dealing with poor circulation or would just like to give your circulation a bit of a boost in general, one of the easiest ways to get your blood pumping is through exercise. The good news is that you don’t have to run a marathon. Any exercise that gets your heart rate up can improve circulation.1 This includes walking! Just 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking in your neighborhood most days of the week will benefit your circulation. Once you feel more comfortable moving on to more challenging exercises, you’ll see your circulation improve even more. But don’t overdo it! Take your time progressing to different forms of exercise like running, biking, swimming to avoid injury.
Eat fish. Not just any fish, oily fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines promote cardiovascular health and improve circulation.2 And for those who are vegetarian or vegan, kale and walnuts actually contain a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are another option for people who do not eat fish.
Get rid of stress. Stress is one of the most damaging things you can do to your body. When you are stressed, the body goes into what is called “fight or flight” mode. Heightened stress can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure, which places a greater strain on the walls of your blood vessels.3 To reduce stress, try yoga or meditation, limiting your caffeine intake, and listening to relaxing music.
Cut back on alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption can be okay for your body, but be sure you know how to define what “moderate” means. For men, that means no more than two drinks per day. For women, that means just one. Drinking any more than that can lead to your arteries hardening, which hinders your body’s ability to let blood flow properly.4
Whether you have poor circulation, or would just like to give your circulatory system a boost, incorporating these tips can help encourage a more robust blood flow, and support your circulatory system. For some tips on how to increase circulation during quarantine, click here.
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.
- Nystoriak M, Bhatnagar, A. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. 2018;5: 135.
- Soumia P, Chopra S, Jubbin J. A Fish a Day, Keeps the Cardiologist Away! – A Review of the Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Cardiovascular System. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2013;17(3):422–429
- Dimsdale J. Psychological Stress and Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2008;51(13):1237–1246
- Piano MR. Alcohol’s Effects on the Cardiovascular System. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2017;38(2):219–241