A Resolution for Better Health: How to Improve Circulation This New Year
If you need some inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions, here’s an idea: better circulation. While many of us never think about our circulatory system until something goes wrong with it, circulation is vital to our health and well-being. To encourage you to improve yours this year, we’ve looked at the causes and symptoms of poor circulation, then covered six strategies that anyone can try at home to improve circulation.
Causes and Symptoms of Poor Circulation
Before you learn how to improve circulation, you need to know why it needs improving in the first place. There are many different possible causes for poor circulation, both genetic and lifestyle, and they all interact together. Rarely is only one cause in isolation responsible for bad circulation — or other health problems, for that matter — and that’s why you should have a full picture of the many elements that affect your circulation. Here are the most common known causes of poor circulation:
- Drinking alcohol
- Inadequate sleep
- Chronic diseases
- Poor diet
- Long periods of sitting and standing
- Wrong sitting and standing postures
- Lack of exercise
- Unnecessary stress
How to Improve Circulation
Now that you know what can cause poor circulation, it’s time to move on to strategies for improving your blood flow. We’ve highlighted some easy strategies that anyone can try at home. If you have really serious circulation problems, your doctor might recommend these in conjunction with medications or other solutions.
You’re probably tired of hearing about the many benefits of exercise by now, but that doesn’t make them any less true! In addition to controlling your weight, boosting your energy, improving your sleep and reducing your risk of certain diseases, exercise also improves your circulation by causing your heart to beat faster, speeding up your blood flow and discouraging it from pooling. Muscle contractions also physically squeeze the blood vessels, further enhancing your circulation.
Eat a healthy diet.
An unhealthy diet can make fat deposits build up on the linings of arteries, causing them to narrow and harden and restrict blood flow. Focus on eating lean proteins, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables instead of the fats and sugars in junk food. And don’t neglect what you drink, either — consume caffeine, alcohol and other dehydrating liquids in moderation, if you drink them at all, and watch out for sugar-dense (and nutrient-light) drinks like soda and juice.
On the flipside, it’s important to drink enough of the right liquids, such as water and green tea. While the daily amount of fluid you need depends on your body, health, lifestyle and a variety of other factors, drinking whenever you feel thirsty is usually enough to keep you hydrated. When you’re not taking in enough fluids, your blood can become more viscous (or thicker), which makes it flow more sluggishly. Drinking enough water ensures that your blood can flow freely, and the practice will also help flush out toxins through your urine.
Smoking is terrible for you in many ways, and that includes your circulation: The habit can narrow blood vessels in the skin, damage the lining of arteries and decrease blood flow to extremities — not to mention increase your risk of lung cancer. While it can take time for your body to fully recover from smoking, some recuperative effects will start to take place in as little as one hour. If you’d like to quit, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider to come up with a plan, as they will probably be able to connect you with a lot of resources.
Try compression therapy.
Compression therapy uses specifically designed garments like socks, stockings and sleeves to apply gentle pressure to your limbs and encourage blood flow. This pressure helps fight the effects of gravity, which pulls down on your blood, sometimes causing it to pool in your lower body. The most popular style of garments available are compression socks, but you can also purchase tights, wraps, gauntlets and many other products for every compression therapy need.
Elevate your legs.
Besides compression socks, there’s another way to defy gravity’s negative circulatory effects: elevating your legs. For 15-20 minutes a day, lie down on your back on a couch or bed with your legs above the level of your heart. This will harness the power of gravity to encourage blood to flow back towards your core as opposed to pooling in your feet. If you have trouble positioning your legs in a comfortable way, a leg elevation pillow can help cushion them as you lie down.
Make it your resolution in the coming year to improve your circulation with these six strategies. If you need more information about circulation and how to improve it, check out the rest of our blog!
Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC Kaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She’s been working in the medical device industry for over 11 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Science Center.
Written December 2018 | Page last updated December 2021
Better Health Channel. “Smoking- Effects on Your Body” https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/smoking-effects-on-your-body
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