You may be suffering from poor blood flow without even knowing it. This is a condition you just can't afford to ignore if you want to live your life to the fullest. Take steps to improve circulation as soon as possible!
Poor circulation is characterized by a decrease in blood flow to some parts of the body. When this happens you may experience the following symptoms:
Here are twenty proven strategies you can try to improve the blood flow in your body:
1. Be More Active
For maximum benefits, you should get at least thirty minutes of any physical activity daily, 5 days a week or more. Practice this at a moderate intensity, like brisk walking at a pace when you are breathing heavily but still able to carry on a conversation.
This physical activity doesn't necessarily have to be weightlifting or fitness. It can be any recreational or work-related activity at a moderate intensity, such as doing yard work or swimming. It can even be something you add to your regular routine, such as taking the stairs instead of using the elevator.
2. Take a Black Ginger Supplement
Black Ginger (Kaemperia Parfilora) is an herb found in Asian tropical regions. In traditional Thai medicine, its roots have reportedly been used to treat a variety of conditions, including asthma, gout, diabetes and allergy.
Modern studies have shown that Black Ginger has many beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anticancer and antimicrobial, as well as being cardioprotective.
Last but not least, Black Ginger supplements help to relax and widen the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow. This boosts muscular endurance and performance during physical exercise.
3. Get a Massage
Getting a massage isn't just a great way to relieve stress and calm down muscle aches, but also to speed up recovery and even improve general circulation. Massage therapy is a general term for a technique in which your muscles, skin and tendons are pressed, manipulated and rubbed.
Massage may be helpful in alleviating hypertension, which develops when the pressure needed to circulate blood through the arteries is higher than normal. One study showed that regular massage could help hypertensive people lower their blood pressure.
4. Add More Omega-3 to Your Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy unsaturated fats found in certain foods. Some of the best sources are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, cod, herring and mackerel.
Adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can promote cardiovascular health and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, this nutrient may slightly decrease resting blood pressure and reduce levels of body fat, prevent blockage of the coronary arteries and decrease the buildup of arterial plaque (atherosclerosis).
Avoid fried fish and instead have it broiled, grilled or baked.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking affects your blood circulation in a many different ways, including:
Smoking has also been linked to a higher risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that causes poor circulation in the lower extremities. PAD can make it more likely you will suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
When you quit smoking, you will immediately experience improvements in cardiovascular health. Your risks of heart disease will decrease almost immediately and will continue to drop over time as long as you stay away from smoking.
The most effective way to quit is to use a combination of approaches, including medications such as nicotine chewing gums along with getting support from family and friends.
6. Take Up Yoga
Yoga is a spiritual and physical discipline from India that involves practices such as mediation, breathing techniques, and the holding of specific positions. It has long been recognized as a mind-body workout that can help improve circulation by reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular function.
There's a wide variety of resources you can find online that would enable you to learn how to start your yoga practice. Alternately, you can look for a yoga teacher in your area that would instruct you in the basic skills that you need.
No matter which method you use to learn yoga, what is important is that you perform it on a regular basis. This would enable you to enjoy the maximum benefits from the practice.
7. Wear Compression Garments
Compression garments are tight pieces of clothing that are specifically designed to improve local circulation in the areas where they are worn. The most common type of compression garments are calf-length socks but shorts and upper-body garments are also available.
The way compression garments work is that they squeeze the arteries and veins in the area where they are worn. This paradoxically results in improved blood flow.
If you are experiencing poor blood flow in the legs, you can try wearing compression socks for a start.
8. Take a Warm Bath
Warm baths have been shown to be effective in helping improve circulation in the lower leg. According to one study, immersion in warm water (40-degrees C) for twenty minutes caused blood flow to significantly increase compared with a cold-water bath.
To get the most out of your warm bath, you can add Epsom salts to the water to help relieve sore muscles and loosen stiff joints.
9. Spend More Time Standing
A sedentary lifestyle in which you spend hours sitting down is a major cause for poor circulation. The average American now spends around 6.5 hours a day sitting down, for work and leisure activities.
One solution is to use a sit-stand workstation that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing by adjusting the height of the table. If this is not possible, try to stand up for at least five minutes for every thirty that you spend sitting.
10. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol use can increase the risk for developing cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke and coronary heart disease. Although taking a glass of alcohol daily has some health benefits, taking more than this can increase your health risks.
If you already drink alcohol, you shouldn't have more than two drinks a day. If you are considering starting to drink because of reported health benefits, you should weigh this decision against the risks, particularly if you are a middle-aged or older adult.
11. Drink More Tea
Tea has been prized for centuries due to its reported medicinal properties. There are three main types of tea that can be produced from tea leaves – green, which is low-oxidized; black, which is fully oxidized; and oolong, which is partly oxidized.
A lot of the medicinal value of tea leaves come from their being rich in flavonoids. This is a natural substance that has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidative properties.
To enjoy the maximum health benefits, drink at least three cups of tea a week. Green tea may also be better than black or oolong, but you should drink the tea that you personally prefer.
12. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is a condition in which your body doesn't get enough water to meet its needs. We often fail to realize that we aren't drinking enough water to replenish what we’ve lost because we’re too busy or don’t realize we’re thirsty.
Not drinking enough water also increases the strain on your heart because it makes your blood thicker. This forces the heart to pump faster, resulting in palpitations as heart rate increases.
When deciding how much water to take to stay hydrated, you should be guided by your thirst and your individual needs. You don’t need to follow the eight-glasse-a-day rule since there is no scientific basis for this.
13. Dry Brush Your Skin
Dry brushing is a wellness practice that dates back to ancient times. It essentially involves using a stiff-bristled brush to massage the skin.
Although the main purpose of this practice is to exfoliate, there are many other health claims associated with dry brushing. These include improving the appearance of cellulite, detoxifying the body, and even helping digestion.
It may also improve circulation, although there are no scientific studies to validate this claim. If you would like to try it, buy a long-handled brush with firm natural bristles.
Brush once a day, preferably before you take a shower or bath in the morning. Use smooth long strokes.
Brush the buttocks, legs and arms in an upward direction. Then brush the torso and back downward and the shoulders in a sweeping straight motion.
Stretching your muscles helps you maintain your flexibility, particularly if you have a sedentary lifestyle. It can also help alleviate conditions such as lower back and shoulder pain and stiff neck.
Studies have also shown that performing stretching on a daily basis can help increase blood flow to the muscles. It may also help reduce blood pressure and promote the development of new blood vessels.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that flexibility exercises should be done at least two times a week for the major muscle groups, which include:
15. Elevate Your Legs
If you spend a lot of time sitting down or are otherwise sedentary throughout the day, elevating your legs can help restore healthy blood flow.
- Lie on the floor with your buttocks close to the wall
- Lift your legs so that the heels are resting against the wall
- Hold for fifteen minutes (start at five or whatever is comfortable for you and gradually increase the time)
- Do this exercise thrice a day
- If you feel uncomfortable, use a cushion for support
This is a technique used in traditional Asian medicine that is helpful for treating a variety of health conditions, such as managing pain. It uses thin needles inserted under the skin to stimulate certain points in the body.
Although more research is required, preliminary studies suggest that acupuncture may help improve local blood circulation by regulating nitric oxide levels. However, acupuncture should not be used as the primary method for improving circulation, but in combination with other interventions.
17. Do Squats
This is an exercise for the lower body that targets the glutes and the thigh, and can keep your joints and bones healthy. Squats can be done with or without weights.
Among their other health benefits, squats may also promote better circulation by improving your heart's efficiency. You can enjoy this benefit by adding squats to your cardiovascular exercise program.
18. Eat More Iron-Rich Foods
Iron deficiency is a common nutritional disorder that most people may be unaware they are suffering from. When iron levels in the blood are too low, anemia may appear.
People with anemia suffer from poor circulation since their blood doesn't have enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen all-around. Common anemia symptoms include cold feet and hands, fatigue, and restless legs.
You can increase your iron levels by eating foods like leafy green vegetables, red meats and beans. Your physician may also prescribe iron supplements but these should be used only as directed since they may have negative side effects.
19. Limit Your Salt Intake
Most Americans aren't aware they are consuming more salt in their daily diet than their body actually needs. This excess salt intake can have negative effects on your cardiovascular health, increasing your blood pressure and your risk of stroke and heart disease.
One study showed that as little as 3.8 grams (3,800 mg) of salt could affect blood circulation within a half-hour after eating. Americans consume some 3,400 mg of salt daily on average, nearly 50% more than the 2,300 mg recommended intake.
One way to reduce salt content in your diet is to eat out less often. Meals served in restaurants as well as prepared mixes are often high in salt.
If you prepare your own meals, reduce the amount of salt you use. You can season your food instead with spices, herbs, pepper, garlic and lemon.
20. Take Niacin
Niacin, or Nicotinic Acid, is a B-complex vitamin known as B-3. It is found in foods such as cereal grains, yeast, milk and meat.
It is also prescribed as a supplement for helping manage cholesterol levels if exercise and diet are not enough to bring them down. By reducing bad cholesterol in the blood, niacin helps improve circulation.
If you take niacin as a supplement, make sure that you do not exceed the recommended daily dose since you can suffer from negative side effects. Adult males should not take more than 16 mg and adult women should limit themselves to 14 mg.
Safely Improve Your Circulation
When you are taking steps to improve circulation, you should coordinate everything with your doctor. They can guide you and ensure that you are using the appropriate strategies for your particular condition.